CERN restores world's first website, celebrates 20 years of a free and open web
Tim Berners-Lee led the project that resulted in the world's first web page sometime around 1991. But it wasn’t until this exact same day in 1993 that CERN announced it would make the software required to run a web server available to anyone on a royalty free basis, along with a basic browser and a library of code. Although originally conceived to meet the demand for information sharing between physicists in universities and institutes around the world, this openness led to the world wide web’s rapid adoption and development in other fields.
In celebration of this important milestone on its 20th anniversary, CERN has started up a new project to revive the very first website at its original URL: http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html.
Screenshot of the original NeXT web browser in 1993
The site was dedicated to the World Wide Web project itself and was hosted on Berners-Lee's NeXT computer. It described the basic features of the web and how it could be used. The re-uploaded files are a 1992 copy of that website, the earliest copy available, but CERN says they’ll keep looking for earlier ones in order to preserve all digital assets associated with the inception of the web in a historical archive for future generations.
In a blog post announcing the restoration project, CERN’s Dan Noyes noted that with few people having access to browsers at the time, it must have taken a visionary leap of faith at the time to see why it was so exciting, adding that “the fact that they called their technology the World Wide Web hints at the fact that they knew they had something special, something big.” Indeed, there is no aspect of society that has not been transformed by the invention, so much so that today the world wide web is almost synonymous with ‘the internet.’
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