The internet of today is a wild combination of text, photos, videos and social interactivity. And those are just the parts that consumers care about. It also contains an unprecedented amount of specialized code that now underpins the electronic interactions of pretty much every computer and connected device on the planet.
Twenty years ago, things were a bit different.
Sure, there was email back then, though it was only being used by a few universities and some high-tech companies. We also had technologies like FTP, Gopher, Telnet and IRC. Wait, none of those are ringing a bell? Don’t worry, you didn’t miss out. Unless you are a hardcore geek, the advent of HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and the platform it created (the World Wide Web) pretty much rendered those other technologies moot. But it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, when the first public web page was created and released by its author, Tim Berners-Lee, only a tiny subset of the population noticed. And no wonder – it wasn’t much to look at.
The sparse white page, with its default Times Roman font and now ubiquitous blue-underlined hyper-links was utilitarian to say the least. The information it contained would only have interested those with a familiarity with the NeXTStep and Unix operating systems and the patience to download, uncompress and install a series of applications and library files. It provided links to the basic building blocks of the web: the code that allows a computer to “serve up” a web page, and the code that lets a user on a different computer “browse” that page. Hardly the stuff to ignite a revolution that would fundamentally change the way the world communicates. And yet it that’s exactly what it did.
From such humble beginnings emerged a technology platform which, thanks to the widespread adoption of smartphones and mobile data networks, touches nearly every person on the planet. A world wide web indeed.
So on this auspicious anniversary, why not “click here” and take a gander at the page that started it all. Just keep your expectations low and remember, things gets better with age.