The World Wide Web celebrates its 25th Anniversary this week. Beginning as a vision by British Physicist Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, the World Wide Web became publically available on 6th August 1991. Berners-Lee wanted to create a device to allow accessible information for all.
Using a NeXT computer, Berners-Lee developed the world’s first website and web browser, along with the systems that now support the web such as URLs, HTML and HTTP. The computer he used can be found at the Science Museum, complete with ‘Do Not Power It Down’ sticker.
Due to the readiness of information, the world was transformed within a decade, with computers slowly becoming present in every home. One of the main factors that influenced its amazing growth was the decision by CERN and Berners-Lee to make the web free to use for everyone.
The web’s growth over the past 25 years had been incredible. In 1993, there were less than 3000 websites in the entire world. In 2016 there are over one billion. 75% of Europeans are internet users, and 90% of Americans are now online. Despite these astounding figures, more people globally are still offline than on.
In 1995, Microsoft created Internet Explorer, overtaking once popular browsers Mosaic and Netscape. Also launched in ’95 was retail giant Amazon, starting as a humble online shopping site selling books. Amazon now has a customer base of over 30 million people, and last year overtook Walmart as the most valuable retailer in the US by market capitalization.
Google was launched in 1998 and quickly became the most popular search engine of all time. There are now over a trillion Google searches per year.
Although often used as synonyms, the web and the internet are not actually the same thing. The internet is the infrastructure of cables, computers and servers that supports the web.