The history of the World Wide Web
On March 12, 1989, exactly 27 years ago, a proposal was sent internally by Tim Berners-Lee at a research company in Switzerland that was about to change the world. On his birthday, we look back at the how his idea revolutionised the internet
London: On March 12, 1989, exactly 27 years ago, a proposal was sent internally at a research company in Switzerland that was about to change the world.
Dubbed Information Management: A proposal, the document was created by a 34-year-old computer scientist called Timothy John ‘Tim’ Berners-Lee and was sent to his boss Mike Sendall.
Sendall’s description of the as ‘vague but exciting’ lead to the development of the World Wide Web (WWW) and ultimately, the internet as we know it today.
A fine print: One of the papers of the Information Management: A proposal, sent by Tim Berners-Lee (inset) to his boss Mike Sendall
Sir Timothy Berners-Lee studied physics at Queen’s College, Oxford, before graduating in 1976. He then started as an engineer in the telecommunications and microprocessor software industry.
In 1980, while working as an independent contractor at CERN, Timothy described the concept of a global system based on using hypertext to share information between researchers.
He then built a prototype system called ENQUIRE, which formed the conceptual basis for the World Wide Web.
In 1989 he published his landmark paper, built the first server as well as the web browser ‘WorldWideWeb.app’. The first website, based on these fundamental practices, then went live in August 1991.
Sir Timothy said, “In March 1989, I wrote a proposal for a universal linked information system that became the World Wide Web. 25 years later, the web is a powerful enabler of people, economic activity and democracy. So important that some have argued that access to the web should be elevated to a human right.”
Lesley Cowley, chief executive officer of Nominet, said, “The web is such as integral part of our lies that we can’t live without it. It has changed to something beyond what even Sir Tim could have imagined 25 years ago, when they were looking for an easier way to share and structure information.
The social, political and economic impact of the web makes it a story we are all part of, and to which we all contribute daily, whether that’s finding the answer to a question or connecting with friends and colleagues.”
Internet bill of rights need of the hour, says Tim
Sir Tim Berners-Lee said an online ‘Magna Carta’ is the need of the hour to protect and enshrine the independence of the internet and the rights of its users globally. New rules are needed to protect the ‘open, neutral’ system of the web, which has come under increasing attack from governments and corporate influence, the British computer scientist said. “We need a global constitution — a bill of rights.”
The plan is a part of an initiative called ‘the web we want”, which calls for generating a digital bill of rights in each country. “Unless we have an open, neutral internet, we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door. We can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture,” said Berners-Lee.
He is a known critic of the US and British spy agencies’ surveillance of citizens following the revelations by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In pictures: List of firsts in internet history (View images)