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Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Brief History of the Web- Part one...

   So here begins my much anticipated A Brief History of the Web series.  This should be fun and informative for newbies and computer geeks alike.

   Many newbies may confuse the World Wide Web with the Internet.

   The World Wide Web is a very important component of the Internet, but the Internet also includes P2P networks, BitTorrent networks, e-mail, VoIP, and other components.  If this series was titled A Brief History of the Internet, I would probably have to start in the 1960s.

   The World Wide Web is much younger, so I only have to start in 1989, when the whole idea started.

  Don't thank Al Gore, thank Tim Berners-Lee.

  This photo of Tim Berners-Lee is courtesy of Wikipedia:

   Tim Berners-Lee is a computer scientist.  He was a contractor for CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN needed a convenient way for physicists to communicate ideas, worldwide.

  After he wrote a proposal for a large hypertext database with typed links in 1989, he had developed the final designs for the World Wide Web by Christmas 1990.  (Hypertext is the concept of a bit of text being linked to another document.  Have you ever clicked on a link?  Congratulations!  You've used hypertext.)

  All of the necessary parts were ready, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), the very first web browser, WorldWideWeb, the first web server with its software, and the very first webpages.  Tim's WorldWideWeb browser could only run on NeXt computers, so Nicola Pellow, a woman at CERN, developed a web browser named WWW that could run on computers with Unix and MS-DOS operating systems.

  What is a NeXt computer?  NeXt computers were created by a company Steve Jobs started in 1985.  They were very expensive, not easily affordable for most consumers.  When Apple bought NeXt in 1997, Steve Jobs rejoined Apple, and the brand was discontinued.

  On August 6th, 1991, Tim announced the World Wide Web's public availability on the alt.hypertext newsgroup.
  By December 1992, the first Mac OS web browser, MacWWW, was released.  It was developed by Nicola Pellow and Robert Cailliau.

  In the very early days of the web, maybe up until 1995, web surfers were primarily academics and scientists.

   My family were early adopters of home Internet access technology, and I was a web surfer from the time I was ten years old in 1994.  My very first web browser was Mosaic.

   Part two starts in 1994.  In that upcoming post, I'll describe my very first days on the Web, and how Netscape's Navigator web browser quickly grew in popularity.  I'll also describe the beginning of,, and the downfall of Prodigy Online, Compuserve and America Online (AOL).


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