World Wide Web – three words, huge impact. It is so much an every day part of our lives these days that it is hard to believe it is only 25 years old. Or is it?
Today, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, is amongst many people celebrating a quarter of a century of dramatic progress. But it isn’t really 25 years of the web.
The 12th March is the date on which Tim Berners-Lee submitted a paper suggesting the use of hyperlinks to connect pages of content. However, it was not until August 1991 that he actually turned his notion into a functioning website. Even then it was only text-based with no fancy formatting at all. The first websites as we know them today were not created until May 1993, because it was not possible to include any kind of graphical formatting until that time.
So whilst it is true that the paper that heralded the web was put forward on this day 25 years ago, it is only 21 years since the web as we know it was created. And even then, it didn’t look anything like the web we have today. Just take a look at how Google looked on its début in 1998.
And if you think they haven’t moved on a lot, take a look at one of my original websites from 15 years ago…!
Things have moved on, not just in design terms but in functions. After all, when the World Wide Web was first proposed a certain Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and originator of Facebook had not even started school. At just four years old he was still probably playing with Lego, blissfully unaware that there was developing technology that he was going to master.
Even though the commercial web we use today did not really arise until 1996, a lot has happened in the short lifetime of the idea that is the World Wide Web.
So what will happen in the next 25 years? The person who is going to revolutionise our world again is probably in a nursery school right now, hands deep in a sandpit. Maybe it is your child or grandchild.
One thing is for sure, though, in 25 years time we will look back at the websites we have today and laugh at how simple and relatively useless they all were.