This past August 6, 2011 marked the 20th Anniversary of something most of us probably take for granted. The significant ‘birth’ I’m referring to took place at the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) facility tucked somewhere up in the Swiss Alps, when then 36-year-old physicist Tim Berners-Lee published the first-ever website.
The site itself wasn’t much to speak of, merely a singular page explaining the World Wide Web project itself and giving information on how users could set-up a web server and how to create their own websites and web pages, as well as how they could search the web for information. Sort of like a mini Mission Statement of things yet to come.
And come they did indeed, but not right off the bat of course. At first the only people who actually had web browser software were Berners-Lee and his fellow colleagues at CERN, so the world at large remained almost entirely ignorant of the earth-shattering event that had just taken place. Things really didn’t get going for a couple more years until 1993, when the Mosaic browser was released. That started some serious momentum . . . which I don’t really need to elaborate on. I think we all know where this website thing went . . . so instead, here’s a few extra fun facts to mull over:
• The “//” forward slashes used in any web address actually serve no real purpose at all according to Berners-Lee. They’re basically pointless. Berners-Lee only added them in because “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” He was looking for a way to separate the part that the web server actually needed to know about, for instance “www.mediacorpus.com”, from the other stuff which is more service oriented.
• Berners-Lee originally settled on the name “World Wide Web” because he wanted to emphasize that, in this global hypertext system, anything could link to anything else. Some alternative names he considered: “Mine of Information” (Moi); “The Information Mine” (Tim); and “Information Mesh” (which was discarded as it looked too much like “Information Mess”). I think he made the right choice in the end.
• Wondering what the first ever domain registered was? It was Symbolics.com (a computer company. Shocker huh?) and it happened on March 15, 1985.
• So what’s the deal with Al Gore claiming he invented the Web? Well, technically he didn’t really make that claim. Here’s the scoop: The Mosaic Web browser that got the whole thing really cooking back in the early 1990’s was funded through a U.S government initiative named the “High Performance Computing and Communications Act of 1991.’ Gore simply introduced the initiative. He didn’t ‘invent’ anything.
So, turning 20 is a pretty important milestone. For us it usually coincided with our leaving home for the first time, free of parental restriction at last. Reaching 20 not only marked the beginning of another decade . . . it represented a chance to grow, flourish, learn, blossom, and become a ‘better’ person, or at least a more significant contributor to society as a whole. If after 20 years the World Wide Web has already come this far, imagine how far it will go in the next 20.
Mark the anniversary of the Web by creating your own website if you haven’t already done so. There’s got to be some idea that’s been germinating in your creative mind for quite awhile, an idea that’s longing to be born . . . now’s the time to finally give it a life of its own. No doubt 20 years will go by fast. Who knows . . . you might just be surprised at how far that idea of yours goes. You’ll never now unless you give it a go.