exploring our creative evolution
August 6, 1991
It started in the Swiss Alps. The year was 1980. Tim Berners-Lee, a British software engineer working temporarily at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, was fooling with a way to organize his far-flung notes. Building on ideas then current in software design, he fashioned a kind of “hypertext” notebook. Words in a document could be linked to other files on Berner-Lee’s computer. But why not he wondered, open up his document – and his computer – to everyone and allow them to link their stuff to his. So he cobbled together a coding system – HTML (HyperText Markup Language) – and designed an addressing scheme that gave each web page a unique location, or URL (Universal Resource Locator). And he hacked a set of rules that permitted these documents to be linked together on computers across the Internet.
And on the seventh day, Berners-Lee assembled the World Wide Web’s first browser, which allowed users anywhere to view his creation on their computer screen. He alerted the world by way of a message to a newsgroup and the world came. On August 6, 1991, the web made its debut, instantly bringing order to the chaos that was cyberspace. From that moment on, the web and the internet grew as one, often at exponential rates. Within five years, the number of internet users jumped from 600,000 to 40 million. Until then, we hadn’t really known what a powerful new tool the computer could be for everyone. Now we do.