The First Webpage

Tons of things online are lost to time, but one of the most important things ever continues to live on: The first webpage. Even better, the announcement of said webpage by Sir Tim Berners-Lee continues to be available online. To me, it's the ultimate nostalgia trip.

Before the web, there was Usenet and Listserv message boards and mailing lists. The idea of a graphical way to "visit" a place was a far-out idea but on August 6, 1991 the announcement was made from CERN. In part it reads as follows:

WorldWideWeb - Executive Summary

The WWW project merges the techniques of information retrieval and hypertext to make an easy but powerful global information system. The project started with the philosophy that much academic information should be freely available to anyone. It aims to allow information sharing within internationally dispersed teams, and the dissemination of information by support groups.

Reader view

The WWW world consists of documents, and links. Indexes are special documents which, rather than being read, may be searched. The result of such a search is another ("virtual") document containing links to the documents found. A simple protocol ("HTTP") is used to allow a browser program to request a keyword search by a remote information server. The web contains documents in many formats. Those documents which are hypertext, (real or virtual) contain links to other documents, or places within documents. All documents, whether real, virtual or indexes, look similar to the reader and are contained within the same addressing scheme. To follow a link, a reader clicks with a mouse (or types in a number if he or she has no mouse). To search and index, a reader gives keywords (or other search criteria). These are the only operations necessary to access the entire world of data.

WWW Announcement

Berners-Lee goes on to explain the project and encourages people to visit an alpha test of the whole thing. That link he provided is here: The World Wide Web project he linked to (and I just did) is the same page. And today it still works and has all the information communicated so many years ago.

The description says it all: The WorldWideWeb (W3) is a wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents. Some of the links as you go through the site work while others are dead. But even with that caveat, it's a testament to TBL and CERN that THE website that started it all continues to be happily served up by anyone who wants to view it.

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