Tim Berners-Lee launches the world’s first ever website – info.cern.ch – and web server. The first web page address was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html, which centered on information regarding the world wide web project including how to use a browser and set up a web server.
Berners-Lee developed the world wide web at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Meyrin, Switzerland along the French-Swiss border. The CERN facility is huge and while Berners-Lee entered the facility in Meyrin, his building was actually in France (although there is no marked border at CERN). A fitting anecdote for the launch of a tool that has done much break down borders throughout the world.
The British Council rated this event as the most significant of 80 cultural moments that shaped the world:
The fastest-growing communications medium of all time, the internet has changed the shape of modern life forever. We can connect with each other instantly, all over the world.
As Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web consortium explains, a few simple concepts have played a key role in making the Web a success:
(i) it is universal: it can be made to work with any form of data, on any device, with any software, in any language. You can link to any piece of information
(ii) it is decentralized: anybody can create a site. This enabled the Web to grow quickly.
(iii) the core technology is royalty-free: because people can implement Web technology royalty-free, this spurs innovation.
(iv) it is the result of global collaboration.
It is unclear when the world wide web was first adapted for its true purpose – sharing cute pictures and videos of dogs and cats.
In 1993, CERN put the WorldWideWeb in the public domain, a critical milestone in enabling broad adoption of the Web. The next year, Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to develop common standards for core Web technology. The goal of the organization is to ensure the Web is available to all and not fragmented into proprietary silos.
In 2008, Berners-Lee launched the World Web Foundation with a mission to establish the open Web as a global public good and a basic right, ensuring that everyone can access and use it freely.
Berners-Lee commemorated the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web with a call for a Magna Carta for the Web.
What sort of web do you want? I want one which is not fragmented into lots of pieces, as some countries have been suggesting they should do in reaction to recent surveillance. I want a web which is, for example, a really good basis for democracy. I want a web where I can use healthcare with privacy and where there’s a lot of health data, clinical data is available to scientists to do research. I want a web where the other 60 percent get on board as fast as possible. I want a web which is such a powerful basis for innovation that when something nasty happens, some disaster strikes, that we can respond by building stuff to respond to it very quickly.
Berners-Lee is the son of British mathematicians and computer scientists Mary Lee Woods and Conway Berners-Lee, who worked on the first commercially-built electronic computer, the Ferranti Mark 1.