the Creation of the Internet
"You affect the world by what you browse."
~ Tim Berners-Lee
Thirty years ago this month, British software engineer, Tim Berners-Lee, working at CERN, Europe's physics lab near Geneva, invented a system for scientists to share information that would ultimately change humanity. Though primitive forms of the internet had previously existed, it was the World Wide Web that allowed web pages to be collected and accessed with a browser. However, at the last Web Summit in Lisbon, Berners-Lee called for a new "Contract for the Web", based on access for all and the fundamental right to privacy, among other things. Three decades after the launch of World Wide Web, he warned that "the web has been hijacked by crooks and trolls to manipulate people all over the world," citing threats ranging from the dark web, to cyber crime, fake news and personal data theft . He has called for discussion platforms that connect people with different opinions and backgrounds, contrary to today's common practice of creating online ghettos, filter bubbles and feedback loops where people rarely encounter opinions different from their own.
On March 12th, 1989 Sir Tim Berners-Lee submitted the original proposal to his employer, CERN, for the world wide web. Reflecting on its evolution, he states "I imagined the web as an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries."
There are several important days noted with respect to the invention of the internet and World Wide Web and so the March 12th date is only one in a series of milestone dates:
November 12, 1990: This is the date that Tim Berners-Lee put forth another proposal detailing the technical specification for actually developing a system that he called “WorldWideWeb”. This proposal was accepted and the real work of creating the web was put into motion. This could more accurately be called the conception of the web.
February 26, 1991: On this date Berners-Lee released the first web browser to his colleagues within CERN. At this point the web was only available within CERN, but the fact that people were browsing is significant.
May 17, 1991: The first machine set up as a web server to the public Internet is set up by Tim Berners-Lee. Truly, this could be considered the birthday of the web as it was the first time anyone in the world (who had Internet access, of course) could feasibly browse the web. Not that there was much information of interest available that day, but the web was “live” for all intents and purposes. From this point forward, web servers were set up in organizations all over the world and development of web browsers for all computer operating systems began in earnest.
April 30, 1993: The source code of the World Wide Web protocols are made public domain by CERN. Tim Berners-Lee urged CERN to do this so that it would be freely available to anyone who wanted to set up a web site. Had this not happened, it would have changed the history of the web as the de-facto standard for organizing and sharing information on the Internet. Some people consider this the real birth of the World Wide Web and the moment the Internet began to creep into the mainstream.
August 1: designed World Wide Web Day. The world’s first website, at CERN, went online on August 6, 1991.
From the register notes: This tartan was designed to celebrate 30 years of the World Wide Web which was invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. The main background colour of blue represents the sky and seas that encompasses the earth. Yellow represent the sun while Red represent the determination and desire for the web to continuously evolve. Black, Brown and White represent the population in equal measure.
For more on the challenges for the web as reckoned by Tim Berners-Lee, click the graphic for the World Wide Web Foundation.