Sunday, August 06, 2006

WWW 15 years

Today the World Wide Web exists 15 years. According to W3C, on August 6, 1991, Tim Berners Lee, send the file below on the world wide web to the newsgroup alt.Hypertext:

Hypertext links enabling retrieval from multiple heterogeneous sources of information?

The WorldWideWeb (WWW) project aims to allow links to be made to any information anywhere. The address format includes an access method (=namespace), and for most name spaces a hostname and some sort of path.

We have a prototype hypertext editor for the NeXT, and a browser for line mode terminals which runs on almost anything. These can access files either locally, NFS mounted, or via anonymous FTP. They can also go out using a simple protocol (HTTP) to a server which interprets some other data and returns equivalent hypertext files. For example, we have a server running on our mainframe ( in WWW syntax) which makes all the CERN computer center documentation available. The HTTP protocol allows for a keyword search on an index, which generates a list of matching documents as annother virtual hypertext document.

If you're interested in using the code, mail me. It's very prototype, but available by anonymous FTP from It's copyright CERN but free distribution and use is not normally a problem.

The NeXTstep editor can also browse news. If you are using it to read this, then click on this: to find out more about the project. We haven't put the news access into the line mode browser yet.

We also have code for a hypertext server. You can use this to make files available (like anonymous FTP but faster because it only uses one connection). You can also hack it to take a hypertext address and generate a virtual hypertext document from any other data you have - database, live data etc. It's just a question of generating plain text or SGML (ugh! but standard) mark-up on the fly. The browsers then parse it on the fly.

The WWW project was started to allow high energy physicists to share data, news, and documentation. We are very interested in spreading the web to other areas, and having gateway servers for other data. Collaborators welcome! I'll post a short summary as a separate article.

Tim Berners-Lee
World Wide Web project
1211 Geneva 23, Switzerland
Tel: +41(22)767 3755
Fax: +41(22)767 7155
(usual disclaimer)

When I was in Geneva in 2003 at the World Summit on the Information Industry, I had a chance to photograph the Next computer on which the www code was developed.

(Collection Jak Boumans)

BTW I have not tested the 1991 e-mail address of Tim Berners Lee yet.


Blog Posting Number: 466

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