Free and open: the World Wide Web’s anniversary

World Wide Web anniversary

On April 30th, 1993, the World Wide Web (WWW) became of public domain. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, published a statement that made it available to everyone with an open license. The WWW was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. At that time, there were other information systems competing with the web project, such as Gopher or WAIS. However, as the World Wide Web technology was free, open and simple, its adoption and development was unstoppable.

How did the WWW start?

As mentioned above, the World Wide Web was invented by the British physicist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, while working at CERN. The project was originally born to find a solution to share information more easily among physicists in universities and institutes worldwide. In 1990, he wrote the first web browser.

As explained in the CERN’s webpage about the birth of the web, the first website in the world was hosted in Berners-Lee’s NeXT computer and described the basic features of the WWW. It explained, for instance, how to set up a server and how to access documents. In 2013, CERN started a project to restore this first ever website, in order to preserve the digital assets related to the origins of the web.

While building the web, Berners-Lee also developed other essential technologies — widely known nowadays, for instance: the Uniform Resource Locator (URL), the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). In the following webpage, you can read the statement of the release of the web into the public domain.

The World Wide Web and the Internet

The World Wide Web has transformed the lives of millions of people worldwide, which use it daily to interact on the Internet. Both the WWW and the Internet are so interlinked and have become so present in our daily lives that many people often use both terms equally. Although they do not mean the same thing.

On one side, the WWW or “the web” is an information system where documents and other resources are accessible over the Internet, identified by URLs, which can be interlinked among them by hyperlinks. Users access web resources via the application-level Internet protocol HTTP or HTTPS. The HTTP protocol started at version 0.9 in 1991 and the current version is HTTP 3.0.

On the other side, the Internet is a global system of interconnected networks — public, private, academic, government and business. The Internet is also commonly known as the “network of networks” and infrastructures such as Internet Exchange Points help accelerate communications among all of them.

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