This month (March 2015) the World Wide Web officially turned 26-years-old! While the World Wide Web technically existed prior to 1989, it was a place dominated by now-archaic technology that only those who were technically savvy could navigate.
People who were ‘in-the-know’ were originally able to connect to the Internet through a bulletin board system (BBS), and could send emails or communicate in forums. But the Internet as we know it today was still a long way off.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the World Wide Web in 1989. A computer scientist in London England, and a fellow at CERN at the time, Sir Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to join hypertext with the Internet, saying, “Most of the technology involved in the web, like the hypertext, like the Internet, multifont text objects, had all been designed already. I just had to put them together.”
In 1990, Sir Berners-Lee invented the world’s first private browser, and he released the code for the World Wide Web, an “information management system” that would allow people to access websites hosted on the Internet around the world. In that same year, the world’s first website and server went live at CERN, and the first search engine, Archie, was born.
Three years after releasing the code, the World Wide Web was placed freely in the public domain. This led to the development of the first public browser, Mosaic. By 1993, several hundred websites were online.
In 1994, Sir Berners-Lee founded (and currently directs) the World Wide Consortium (W3C) – the forum for technical development of the Web.
Also in 1994, search engines such as Altavista, Yahoo, Infoseek and Lycos began appearing online. By this time, businesses began to see the importance of being found online and were setting up websites to get listed in search engines.
While just 14% of Americans used the Internet in 1995, technological advancements grew at an unprecedented pace and by 2014, a staggering 87% of Americans were surfing the Word Wide Web (source: Pew Research Center surveys, 1995-2014).
Net Site Marketing was born in 1996 to help businesses reach their highest potential in terms of growth, market reach and profitability. These successes were (and still are) achieved by leveraging the power of search engines + the World Wide Web. (Thus, Inbound Marketing was actually born in 1996 but wasn’t given the moniker until ten years later.)
In 1998, both Google and MSN (now known as Bing) launched. They gradually overtook Yahoo, and along with their powerful pay per click advertising platforms, took their places as the top two search engines in the world – forever changing the art and science of search engine marketing.
Since its founding, the Word Wide Web has changed the lives of billions of people, leading to new business models and new ways of communication, advertising, marketing, education and entertainment. Were it not for Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and the multitude of other developers who freely released their open source code, the Internet as we know it today would be a very different place.
Do you have any early-World Wide Web experiences or memories that you’d like to share? We welcome your input!