It was on this date in 1991 that the English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee published an invitation to collaborate on a “WorldWideWeb” project. Most people accept this invitation as the start of the web. Over the past 30 years, the whole world has been transformed by the Internet.
In its list of the 80 Moments That Shaped the World, chosen by leading academics, cultural figures and scientists, for the British Council, the invention of the web ranked number one. The British Council says: “The fastest growing medium of all time, the Internet has changed the shape of modern life forever. We can connect with each other instantly, anywhere in the world.
It is important to note that Berners-Lee did not invent the Internet in the sense of interconnected computer networks. As computer technology improved in the 1960s, networking became a major area of development, with the US Department of Defense being a source of funding for research. The word Internet was coined as early as 1974, and in 1982 the Internet Protocol Suite saw the light of day. Networks of all kinds grew and access to supercomputers dramatically increased the speed at which information could be shared before Berners-Lee transformed the science of the Internet.
The words internet and web are often used interchangeably, but the web is only an internet service, albeit the most important.
WHAT DO WE DO BEFORE THE WEB?
WE wrote letters or phoned, everyone shopped except mail order catalog users, information came from books and libraries, music came from records and tapes, Amazon was a river or legendary warrior , social media was done through a billboard, Donald Trump couldn’t tweet, and the trolls were cave dwellers from Norse mythology. Before Berners-Lee’s intervention, the closest thing to the modern Internet was the bulletin board systems that were invented in Chicago in 1978 by Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss. They called their system Computerized Bulletin Board System (CBBS) and bulletin boards connected via modems were quickly all the rage with computer enthusiasts. Yet it was truly a hobby for most computer users outside of academia.
WHAT IS TIM BERNERS-LEE DOING?
THE genius of Berners-Lee (below), then working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, was to see the possibilities of hypertext – text displayed on a computer with hyperlinks to others texts that can be accessed immediately by the reader – linked to data networks.
According to the official CERN story: “Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first proposal for the World Wide Web in March 1989 and the second in May 1990. In collaboration with the Belgian systems engineer Robert Cailliau, this was formalized as that management proposal in November 1990. This laid out the main concepts and defined the important terms behind the Web. The document described a “hypertext project” called “WorldWideWe” in which a “web” of “hypertext document” could be viewed by “browsers”. By the end of 1990, Tim Berners-Lee had the first web server and browser up and running at CERN, demonstrating his ideas. He developed the code for his web server on a NeXT computer. To prevent it from accidentally shutting down, the computer had a handwritten label in red ink: “This machine is a server. DO NOT TURN IT OFF !! ”
Until now, only scientists and officials at CERN knew what was going on. On August 6, 1991, Berners-Lee announced the WWW software on Internet newsgroups, and interest in the project quickly spread around the world.
Berners-Lee explained, “Most of the technologies involved in the web, like hypertext, like the Internet, multi-font text objects, had all been designed. I just had to put them together.
“It was a step of generalization, of going to a higher level of abstraction, of thinking of all existing documentation systems as perhaps part of a larger imaginary documentation system. ”
Since then, Berners-Lee has played a leading role in the development of the communication tool, winning the knight title and many prestigious awards.
HOW HAVE WE BEEN SINCE THEN?
It is quite difficult to imagine life without the Internet, but it was not all easy. The newspaper industry has been one of the biggest victims as people migrated online to get their news.
The misuse of the web by dark forces such as terrorists, online hacking and trolling has led some to avoid the web as much as they can. But to look at it objectively, there is no doubt that the World Wide Web has been a great force for good.