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1990–2006: The World Wide Web Turns Sweet Sixteen!

Born November 13, 1990 According to the Timeline on the WC3.org Site

November 13 marked the 16th birthday of the World Wide Web, according to the definitive timeline published by the W3C itself, which identifies the first web page (no longer extant) as having been located at the following URL: http://nxoc01.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html. The occasion has not unsurprisingly unleashed a wave of Web nostalgia, with contributors to Slashdot reminding one another about various little-known nuggets such as the fact that the longest-serving web server, the search engine behind the current celt.ucc.ie, which was the 9th web server in the world, is still sitting there, and indeed is still serving the project it was bought for.

As the poster drily notes:

"Something of a two-edged sword: kudos to Sun for making a machine that has never crashed and never dropped a bit, and to Tim Bray for the PAT search engine which runs on it; but a victim of its own success in that it's only now being scheduled for replacement as the project moves from SGML to XML."
Another Slashdot post recalls the delicate moment in history when the Web and the world of commerce met:
"I remember working at a company which used the net for commercial purposes in about 1993. We formatted and transmitted journals to the IEEE, and used ftp to do it.

The whole thing had to be kept pretty quiet on both sides, as it was a near certainty that if the net-powers-that-be discovered we were using the internet for sordid commerce then there would probably be hell to pay and access to lose.

The web was something I seriously misjudged at first. I remember seeing the X11 Mosaic floating around and thinking...err....yes? And? Then I'd point to the much more advanced Hypercard [wikipedia.org]. I just didn't see the real significance until about 1994 when I finally bought my own modem (Linelink 144e, imported from the States to the UK for a breakthrough price of $99) and decided to swallow the vast phone bills that came with it.

And now? Well, it's a part of my life."

Athough, as many Slahdotters pointed out, people have been "online" since far earlier - TCP/IP for example began taking shape already in the early 70s - common consensus is that the experience of browsing inter(hyper)linked files that defines most people's understanding as being the birth of the World Wide Web.

As an aside, a word about the slow growth of the most growthful phenomenon humankind has yet invented: by 1992, again according to one Slashdot post, you could browse the entire Web in 8 hours. At the time there were about 100 sites that were linked to the CERN list of sites that set the whole WWW in motion.

Currently there are reckoned to be 100 million websites, a gain of 3.5 million sites last month, according to Netcraft's November survey. In the November 2006 survey, Netcraft received responses from 101,435,253 sites, up from 97.9 million sites last month.

Quite a steady growth rate for a "mere" sixteen year old. Happy birthday, WWW!

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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Most Recent Comments
Growing up faster? 11/15/06 01:57:58 PM EST

0 years old = Web 1.0

16 years old = Web 2.0

20 years old = Web 3.0?

infopoint 11/14/06 10:07:56 AM EST

The major academic event covering the WWW is the World Wide Web series of conferences, promoted by IW3C2.

John Nolt 11/14/06 09:37:38 AM EST

As the 'Net fills with spam and splogs, forum and blog comment spam, phishers and cybersquatters, what methods will we use to fight back? Can our defenses keep up? Will we rely on others to filter the Web for us? Will we voluntarily reduce the amount of the Web we can access? And who will we trust to be our guardians?

How do we preserve the integrity and usefulness of the Internet in the face of human nature? This may be the most important question of the Internet age, and I think we're going to need an answer sooner than we'd like.

WWW Danger? 11/14/06 09:32:33 AM EST

TBL told The Guardian recently: "there is a great danger that [the Web] becomes a place where untruths start to spread more than truths, or it becomes a place which becomes increasingly unfair in some way"

Futurescoper 11/14/06 09:22:06 AM EST

While we're on anniversaries, is it true that the first SMS message was sent in 1992?