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World’s first ever web page to be brought back to life

CERN is recreating the website that launched the world wide web to mark the 20th anniversary of the Tim Berners-Lee invention.

Tim Berners-Lee demonstrates the world wide web to people at a conference in Texas in 1991
Tim Berners-Lee demonstrates the world wide web to people at a conference in Texas in 1991
Image: CERN

THE WORLD’S FIRST web page will be dragged out of cyberspace and restored for today’s internet browsers as part of a project to celebrate 20 years of the web, organisers have said.

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) said it had begun recreating the website that launched that World Wide Web, as well as the hardware that made the groundbreaking technology possible.

The world’s first website was about the technology itself, according to CERN, allowing early browsers to learn about the new system and create their own web pages.

The project will allow future generations to understand the origin and importance of the Web and its impact on modern life, CERN web manager Dan Noyes told AFP.

“We’re going to put these things back in place, so that a web developer or someone who’s interested 100 years from now can read the first documentation that came out from the World Wide Web team,” he said.

The project was launched to mark the 20th anniversary of CERN making the World Wide Web available to the world for free.

British physicist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, also called W3 or just the Web, at CERN in 1989 to help physicists to share information, but at the time it was just one of several such information retrieval systems using the internet.

“It’s one of the biggest days in the history of the Web,” Noyes said of the day in 1993 when the web officially began.

CERN’s gesture of giving away the Web for free was what made it just explode.

Noyes said that other information sharing systems that had wanted to charge royalties, like the University of Minnesota’s Gopher, had “just sort of disappeared into history”.

By making the birth of the Web visible again, the CERN team aims to emphasise the idea of freedom and openness it was built on, Noyes said.

“In the early days, you could just go in and take the code and make it your own and improve it. That is something we have all benefitted from,” he said.

While CERN was not promoting any specific ideology, “we want to preserve that idea of openness and freedom to collect and collaborate,” said Noyes.

- © AFP, 2013

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