The worldwide web was 20 years old this weekend, and a plethora of articles was published marking the occasion.
The first website was the work of Tim Berners-Lee, who at the time was working as a physicist at the European nuclear research organisation CERN which has also brought the world such groundbreaking experiments as those carried out in the Large Hadron Collider, which examines the smallest known particles to man which are the basic building blocks of all living things.
Berners-Lee set up the website info.cern.ch, and put up a page giving people more information about how they could create their own web pages, and even – although at that stage there was little to search for – how the web could be used to search for information.
It was almost two years later, with the advent of the first wide-scale web browser software, that the internet really started to take off. A year later, Berners-Lee set up the World Wide Web Consortium to establish a common standard for the way in which all websites should work.
Today aged 56, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, as he is now, is working as an adviser to the UK government on how it can open up all the data it holds for wider public use. He also strongly supports the principle of net neutrality – that governments and internet service providers should not impose any restrictions on public access to all parts of the internet.
As Matt Blum wrote on Wired.com: “It’s nigh-impossible to conceive of just how different the world would be today were it not for the events of 20 years ago.”
Certainly, business would still be wedded to old-fashioned communication methods such as the telephone and mail for communicating with their clients, and searching for someone to supply almost anything, or carry out any kind of service, would take far longer than the seconds it does now. We would certainly have never heard of a search engine, or known the phenomenon that is social media.