Happy 30th Birthday to the website

September 6, 2021

The website recently celebrated its 30th birthday. Today, it’s hard to imagine a world without websites, with most of us accessing them as part of our daily life many times a day. 

Here at Target Ink, our business would look very different if websites didn’t exist. That said, we started life as a graphic design business working with, our name suggests, ‘ink’. That focus didn’t last long though, as our very first client asked for a website – so the rest, as they say, is history. Rob swiftly set himself the task of learning about programming and went on courses in London to fill in the gaps and then partnered with a programmer.

The British computer scientist, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, is unsurprisingly also credited with creating the website. On 6 August 1991, he told a newsgroup for hypertext enthusiasts about his website project and provided instructions for obtaining the WWW software from CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research.  

Sir Tim had been developing the project for a while. Using a NeXT computer, designed by Steve Jobs, he had developed the key technologies that are now the bedrock of the Web, including Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), for creating Web pages; Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), a set of rules for transferring data across the Web; and Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), or Web addresses for finding a document or page. 

In 1998, Sir Tim wrote: “In 1980 I played with programs to store information with random links, and in 1989, while working at the European Particle Physics Laboratory, I proposed that a global hypertext space be created in which any network-accessible information could be referred to by a single ‘Universal Document Identifier’.” 

“Given the go-ahead to experiment by my boss, Mike Sendall, I wrote in 1990 a program called ‘WorldWideWeb’, a point and click hypertext editor which ran on the ‘NeXT’ machine. This, together with the first web server, I released to the High Energy Physics community at first, and to the hypertext and NeXT communities in the summer of 1991.”

Sir Tim didn’t try to cash in on his invention and rejected CERN’s call to patent his Web technology. He wanted the Web to be open and free, so it could expand and evolve as rapidly as possible. As he later said, “Had the technology been proprietary, and in my total control, it would probably not have taken off. You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.”

Thirty years later, there are now believed to be over 1.5 billion websites, with the milestone of one billion websites first reached in 2014. 

Although it was lost for a while, the very first website can now be viewed here: http://info.cern.ch

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