In this months article for webdesigntuts+ I take a look at the history of the World Wide Web and what we can learn from it.
Cover image by Zachary VanDeHey
Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, at the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.
Sample from the article
The web is a wonderful place. It connects people from across the globe, keeps us updated with our friends and family, and creates revolutions never before seen in our lifetime. It has certainly come a long way since its humble beginnings back in the early 1980′s.
In order to understand the history of the World Wide Web it’s important to understand the differences between the World Wide Web and The Internet. Many people refer to them as the same thing, but in fact, although the end result is the common perception of most everyday users, they are very different.
The internet is a series of huge computer networks that allows many computers to connect and communicate with each other globally. Upon the internet reside a series of languages which allow information to travel between computers. These are known as protocols. For instance, some common protocols for transferring emails are IMAP, POP3 and SMTP. Just as email is a layer on the internet, the World Wide Web is another layer which uses different protocols.
The World Wide Web uses three protocols:
- HTML (Hypertext markup language) – The language that we write our web pages in.
- HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol ) – Although other protocols can be used such as FTP, this is the most common protocol. It was developed specifically for the World Wide Web and favored for its simplicity and speed. This protocol requests the ‘HTML’ document from the server and serves it to the browser.
- URLS (Uniform resource locator) – The last part of the puzzle required to allow the web to work is a URL. This is the address which indicates where any given document lives on the web. It can be defined as
In the Beginning…
Ideas for the World Wide Web date back to as early as 1946 when Murray Leinster wrote a short story which described how computers (that he referred to as ‘Logics’) lived in every home, with each one having access to a central device where they could retrieve information. Although the story does have several differences to the way the web works today, it does capture the idea of a huge information network available to everyone in their homes.
The real vision and execution for the World Wide Web didn’t come about until around 40 years later in 1980 when an English chap by the name of Tim Berners Lee was working on a project known as ‘Enquire’. Enquire was a simple database of people and software who were working at the same place as Berners Lee. It was during this project that he experimented with hypertext. Hypertext is text that can be displayed on devices which utilize hyperlinks. The Berners Lee Enquire system used hyperlinks on each page of the database, each page referencing other relevant pages within the system.
Head on over to webdesigntuts+ to read the article in full.