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First web page is back online

May 1, 2013 - Art Smith

Twenty years ago yesterday something happened that changed the world.

It wasn’t the start of a war or the discovery of a cure for a horrible disease, It was a website with the first pages of billions of publically accessible pages to follow. It was simple, it was ugly and it was the start of something that would revolutionize the way we communicate.

Tim Berners-Lee, a physicist working a CERN, a giant research facility based in Geneva, Switzerland, invented the web in 1989. Twenty years ago yesterday CERN put up a site that made the software needed to “drive” the web and the “owner’s manual” needed to use it available to everyone, everywhere, for free.

The rest, as the story goes, is history.

The computer that hosted the first page is still at CERN, but the pages were no longer available until Tuesday. They have been restored to their original web address and are accessible now, as they were then, to anyone in the world with an Internet connect.

That, of course, is a much large number than it was 20 years ago. The web has reached a level of usage faster than any other technology. Ever.

It has fundamentally changed nearly every business model that exists. It helps us learn, it helps us communicate and share. It has invaded our homes and started entire business sectors that didn’t exist, while drastically changing others.

Yet if it were a person, it wouldn’t be old enough to order a beer to celebrate.

It took a while for Berners-Lee’s baby to grow. Large companies started adding sites in the mid 1990s. Most have gone through several generations of redesigns.

The Marietta Times put the first version of online in 2000. The Parkersburg News and Sentinel put a single-page site up around the same time and followed with a full site in the spring of 2001. Both sites were relaunched in December of 2001 and have undergone several upgrades since. Both sites now have thousands of stories and contain an archive dating back to 2008.

The web has moved beyond the simple computer and is now also on tablets, phones, TV, even in your car. It’s about to be available on eyewear and watches and who knows what else.

It will be interesting to see what the web does as it moves into adulthood and settles down.



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