Web

20 years ago today, humanity was given the greatest gift of all: The World Wide Web

 original NeXT web browser in 199

We’re all pretty immersed with our digitally-driven lives, probably too preoccupied with our gizmos, gadgets, and social media accounts to even wonder how we got to be so technologically advanced in this day and age. Ever wonder about the Internet’s origin, or why it’s absolutely free to be used by anyone with a connection? Do you remember your very first encounter with the World Wide Web? It was 20 years ago today when Sir Tim Berners-Lee – a British scientist at CERN – made the Internet as we know it and the technology that drove it completely royalty-free, which basically meant anybody in the world could use it .

bernersleeThe Internet’s humble beginnings

From 1989 to the following year, Berners-Lee along with Belgian systems engineer Robert Cailliau wrote and developed a proposal outlining the use of a global hypertext system, which would later on be referred to as the World Wide Web. In the proposal, terms pertaining to the use of the web were identified, including the way a web of hypertext documents (what we now know as HTML) could be viewed by browsers. In late 1990, demonstrations of their project’s prototype began. Since the project was originally intended to make information dissemination between scientists stationed in various locations around the world easier, an interface was developed on NeXT computers and applied so that people within CERN would be encouraged to use and test it out themselves. To this day, the original NeXT computer is on display at the Microcosm exhibit in Switzerland. According to CERN, it still bears the handwritten label that says, “This machine is a server. DO NOT POWER IT DOWN!!”

Web in the 90s

As it was, only a select few had complete access to the NeXT computer that ran the first-ever browser. In 1991, CERN proceeded to develop a basic browser that could run on any system or computer. Complete with software, library, and functions that allowed other developers to modify the browser according to their needs, the new WWW system was quickly implemented by various schools and research centers.

The first Web server finally reached the U.S. and came online in 1991 at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. By that time, two versions of the browser were available – to further develop the newer one, Berners-Lee took to the Internet to reach out to other developers who would like to contribute. Quite a few were successful, the most notable one being the Mosaic, the very first graphical browser released by Marc Andreessen, Eric Bina, and others at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. This browser, along with the Web, gained media attention – the corporation founded to back it up would later on be known as Netscape. In April 1993, CERN made the decision to make the Web protocol and code available for everyone to use, partly to usurp other institutions’ plans to charge for it in the future.

Where we are now

Since then, people’s exposure to the World Wide Web just kept growing. In 1994, 2 million computers were connected to the Internet and were specifically intended for academic use only; in 2012, there were 2.4 billion Internet users worldwide, from all walks of life. Radio stations, newspapers, book stores, and search engines began infiltrating Web space. Blogging started becoming a global phenomenon. The dot-com market rose then crashed again. Google started becoming a household name, alongside Wikipedia. iPods were released. File-sharing services were founded.  Billions of webpages were created and visited on a daily basis, one of them being MySpace. Soon it was Facebook and Twitter and YouTube. After 10 years of being available to the general public, the World Wide Web began seeing the development of more online and portable technology, and more households were able to access highspeed Internet access that was available 24/7. People started turning to the Internet for entertainment purposes, which used to be exclusive to television. The rest is – as cliché as it sounds – history. And it’s only getting better.

first-webpage

As a tribute to the 20 years we’ve all experienced connected to the Internet and an even bigger part of their initiative to restore digital treasures associate with the birth of the Web, CERN has decided to bring all of us back to the World Wide Web’s roots and republish an updated version of the very first web page address, http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html. Compared to the visually graphic and cleverly designed websites that recently won at the Webby Awards, it’s pretty plain and simple – but it’s definitely a clear sign of just how much the Internet has evolved.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Computing

How to change your Gmail password in just a few quick steps

Regularly updating your passwords is a good way to stay secure online, but each site and service has their own way of doing it. Here's a quick guide on how to change your Gmail password in a few short steps.
Computing

Tired of paying a monthly fee for Word? The best Microsoft Office alternatives

Looking for a competent word processor that isn't Microsoft Word? Thankfully, the best alternatives to Microsoft Office offer robust features, expansive compatibility, and an all-too-familiar aesthetic. Here are our favorites.
Web

Google’s updated Santa Tracker entertains and teaches coding throughout December

Google's Santa Tracker is in its fifteenth year and is back again with even more features. You can have fun with more than 20 games, learn about different holiday traditions around the world, and enjoy some festive animations.
Computing

Microsoft is ‘handing even more of online life’ to Google, Mozilla CEO says

Not everyone is happy with Microsoft's switch to Google's Chromium engine. In a new blog post, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard writes that he believes the move is "handing online life control" to Google.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Computing

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.
Web

Google Translate updated to reduce gender bias in its translations

Google is changing how Google Translate offers translations. Previously when you entered a word like doctor, Translate would offer a masculine interpretation of the word. Now, Translate will offer both masculine and feminine versions.
Web

Encryption-busting law passed in Australia may have global privacy implications

Controversial laws have been passed in Australia which oblige tech companies to allow the police to access encrypted messages, undermining the privacy of encryption with potentially global effects.
Web

Can Microsoft’s Airband Initiative close broadband gap for 25M Americans?

A new report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that 25 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. Of these, more than 19 million are living in rural communities. Can Microsoft help out?