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Happy 20th, World Wide Web: Here’s Your First Web Page
April 30, 2013
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Today is the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web.

On April 30, 1993, researchers at the European Organzation for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that they would turn the World Wide Web (or W3, as they called it), into a free and open source platform.

To celebrate the occasion, CERN has recreated the first publicly available free web page.

It's not much to look at - just black text on a white background, with some hyperlinks that send you to other pages (and some that don't actually work).

But it does offer a pretty amazing glimpse at where it all began. The page gives the public, circa 1993, an explanation of what the World Wide Web is: "a wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents."

It's an accurate description of what the web was then, but it doesn't cover what it would become - there's no mention of cat videos, ridiculous memes, Twitter, Facebook, or trolling in comment sections.

There's also no mention of any corporate interests getting involved, and that's part of the point of this recreation, according to CERN's head of communications, James Gillies.

He told the BBC that without the World Wide Web, "you would have had web-like things but they would have belonged to Microsoft or Apple or Vodafone or whoever else. You would not have had a single open standard for everyone."

Back in 1993, CERN's management had serious discussions about whether the organization should work on remaining "the home of the web," or focus on its original mission of physics research.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee speaking to the Royal Society in London, September 2010 (Photo: Getty)

Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who is credited as the inventor of the World Wide Web) and the other people who worked on the project decided to give away any ownership of the web, and make sure no one else could own it either.

They signed legal documents that ensured the W3 would remain an open and free standard for everyone, and would be all about universal access to information and free expression online.

Dan Noyes, CERN's current web manager, says he hopes this project will help young people discover the original intentions behind the World Wide Web - and see how different today's version is:

"I want my children to be able to understand the significance of this point in time: the web is already so ubiquitous - so, well, normal - that one risks failing to see how fundamentally it has changed," he told the BBC.

Incredibly, as the International Business Times points out, in 1993, the web "accounted for 1 percent of Internet traffic," according to CERN. The rest of the Internet was email, file transfers and remote access.

Now, 20 years later, there are an estimated 630 million websites online.

Via The Atlantic Wire


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