Web firsts… #history


Excerpts from The PC Pioneers

Thirty years ago, on this day in 1985, the first .com web domain was registered

In just 30 years the world wide web has gone from zero users to 3 billion, here are some of its milestones:

On 6 August 1991, Tim Berners-Lee published outline details of the World Wide Web project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup – www.info.cern.ch was also opened on that date as the world’s first-ever website.  It ran on a NeXT computer and its major purpose was to describe the World Wide Web and advise how users might develop their own websites.  It also included a CERN telephone directory for the site.

The MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) AI Lab team founded a commerical organisation to manufacture computers and called it Symbolics Inc. It has the distinction of then creating the very first .com domain – this was appropriately named symbolic.com


Paul Kunz of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center visited CERN and sent its NeXT  world-wide-web software to his NeXT computer and was able to request and display material from his remote California-based computer.

Kunz and his team were using an IBM computer for an intriguing application.  Whenever a scientist published a paper, any journal required a review by his peers and this often delayed publication.  It had become the practice for scientists to pre-publish papers as ‘preprints’ so colleagues and peers could have early access, with the proviso of course that reviews were still pending.

In the early ‘80s managing these preprints at Stanford had become something of a nightmare with a hundred new preprints received every week.  Stanford had handled this from the ‘70s with the SPIRES database (Stanford public information retrieval system) but this was showing signs of strain.

Kunz saw the CERN approach as a solution to providing rapid access to these preprints.  His team ported the WWW software to an IBM and in December 1991 launched the first US web server at www.slavcm.slac.stanford.edu

Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau wanted to use this timely new US facility at the ACM’s Hypertext 91 Conference held in mid-December 1991 in San Antonio Texas.  But the conference committee rejected their paper; they were however allowed to demonstrate the WWW at the event.

Published in 1993, Berners-Lee’s definition of HTML would become the lingua franca of the World Wide Web, defining the text and image formatting of web pages.  It initially had twenty elements; thirteen of these are still in use and unchanged.

Just look at the growth of the www:

End of No of users of world pop’n
1995 16m 0.4%
2000 361m 5.8%
2005 1,018m 15.7%
2010 1,966m 28.7%
2015 est 3,072m 42.4%

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