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History of the World Wide Web

When we started talking about how the internet relates to information networks, I became intrigued by the early history of the Internet. Being born in 1995, I quite literally don’t know a world without it – but I’ve never fully understood how the World Wide Web was developed into what it is today.

From this article, I learned that as early as 1961 there were “online communities” consisting of terminals (nodes) and multiple phone lines (edges) to make up a network of users. In the early 1970’s, private networks began adding emails and the “@” symbol became iconic. 1973 brought along what some now see as the archaic Ethernet. Later in the 70’s, there were multiple private corporate networks in use. Personal computers didn’t come about until almost 1980 and in 1983 the US government launched a “modest experimental network of networks” that the article refers to as the Internet. By the late 80’s, this modest network connected over a million people (certainly modest compared to the current UN Estimated 3 billion).

The World Wide Web as we know it, with browsers, URLs, and HTML, launched in 1990. I had no idea there were competitors to the World Wide Web, most notably Gopher, Lynx, and Viola – the idea of multiple public Internets is almost laughable to me now. The Web mostly pulled ahead because in 1993 it became free to use while others began charging for licenses. The year that I had previously associated with the “start of the internet”  was 1995, but that’s most likely because it’s the year Microsoft started giving away Internet Explorer for free with every copy of Microsoft ’95 (a fancy set of applications, still used by grandparents today).

Like we mentioned in class, the internet is a way of storing information on webpages (nodes) through links (edges). It’s incredible how something seemingly so simple has become so massive in under 50 years.



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