Thirty years ago today on 13 March 1989, a British scientist presented a research paper at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research that would change all of our lives forever. His name was Tim Berners Lee.
That paper, "Information Management: A Proposal", described what we now know as the World Wide Web - albeit in a much more basic form than we have today. It was Sir Berners-Lee's document that resulted in the creation of Hyper Text Markup Language, better known as HTML, which would later allow images and texts to be presented in web format for the first time.
Berners-Lee has written a letter to mark the 30th anniversary in which he laments that"while the web has created opportunity, given marginalised groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit."
In 1990, I coded up the foundational technologies for the World Wide Web.— Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) March 12, 2019
To celebrate the web’s 30th birthday, will you add to a crowdsourced Twitter timeline of the web’s milestone moments? https://t.co/7sGBdFyE6Q#Web30 #ForTheWeb pic.twitter.com/AzfjmpvZYX
Although the wider Internet did exist in 1989, it was limited to only defence and academic domains and was wholly text-based.
HTML was the language of the pages themselves, of course, and it's the way you can read these very words. But it needed a way of distribution. The Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) provided the framework and Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) the addresses so that websites could be found. The rest is history.
Early search engines and directories quickly sprang up to help people locate information - Lycos, WebCrawler and Yahoo were some of the popular choices in the early days. And, of course, while Google started its search-based business in 1998, there remain plenty of alternatives to the company that has come to dominate the web.
Speaking to the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones yesterday, Sir Tim Berners-Lee said that international action is needed to stop the web from plunging into a downward spiral. Sir Tim said people were realising their data could be "manipulated" in the light of recent privacy scandals. But on a lighter note, he said the problems could be tackled.
He also took part in a discussion at CERN earlier today, which you can watch here:
From the first text-heavy web pages to dynamic websites such as this one - we've certainly come some way in the past 30 years. What do you think the next 30 has in store for us?
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