The History of the Web logo

Unraveling the web's story

This project is my decade-long journey through web history. What began as a simple timeline has evolved into an intricate collection pulled from the web’s history, and it’s future possibilites.

You might be here for the memories, or for a bit of research, or because, like me, you find this thing kind of fun. But I hope you enjoy my corner of the web—my makeshift digital time machine.

Every other week I send out a newsletter about the web’s greatest pioneers and unsung heroes, bringing you untold tales of the web’s evolution.

Or you can join me on my blog, a carefully curated space filled with notes, sources, links and errata I’m keeping track of over time as I try to stitch together the different threads of the web’s past.

It’s a work in progress and something I’m hoping to expand on even more.

This project, however, began with a single timeline, ranging from its earliest days to developments still ongoing. And it’s not finished (it maybe never will be).

In the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve continued to add to it. And each week, I add a bit more. Here’s a couple I’ve added recently.

Wide Area Information Servers (WAIS)

Thinking Machines Inc. develops a new Internet protocol dubbed WAIS. Users can download a WAIS client to search through an array of distributed servers and access the documents stored there. The protocol supports fuzzy searching, custom tailored results, and decentralized data storage, but ultimately loses out to the web.

Information Management, a Proposal

While working at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee first comes up with the idea for the World Wide Web. To pitch it, he submits a proposal for organizing scientific documents to his employers titled “Information Management, a Proposal.” In this proposal, Berners-Lee sketches out what the web will become, including early versions of the HTTP protocol and HTML.


Col Needham publishes a few Unix scripts to a Usenet group for browsing and searching through a user generated index of movie lists subdivided into several categories. He calls it the rec.arts.movies movies database. Years later, Needham and a few others would move the interface online and incorporate officially as IMDb.