World Wide Web Turns 15 Today - Reflections

By exclamation55
Nov 13, 2005
  1. [​IMG] 1980, Tim Berners-Lee, a shaggy-haired 25-year-old computer consultant, was doing a six-month stint at CERN, the particle-physics lab in Geneva, and there he began the work that would later coalesce in the birth of the Web. He had grown up in 1960s London, the son of two brilliant mathematicians who made high-level math a game at the breakfast table and encouraged their son to fashion toy computers out of cardboard boxes.

    He wanted to better organize the files on his computer and was fascinated with programs that he felt could work in a “brain-like way.” But though the elegance of the brain’s ability to organize information impressed him, he was also well aware of its limits—its tendency to forget and to get distracted and disorganized. He wanted a program that could, as he later put it, “keep track of all the random associations one comes across in real life and brains are supposed to be so good at remembering but sometimes mine wouldn’t.” He first devised a program that would allow him to link related documents on his hard drive. He called this initial program Enquire, short for Enquire Within Upon Everything, the title of a Victorian encyclopedia that offered tips on matters from how to make wax flowers to how to draw up a will.

    But he wasn’t satisfied as long as his invention benefited only him. What if he could link up thousands of other computers, or even millions? What if he could take a vast jumble of information floating around in countless different places and make it clearly accessible to everyone?

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