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.

WorldWideWeb Browser

Tim Berners-Lee releases WorldWideWeb (later Nexus) on Christmas day, the first ever browser for the web. It is far from primitive, featuring a built-in HTML editor alongside graphical features. However, it is only available on NEXT machines and fails to gain much traction.

What the Web Could Have Been

Gopher

Engineers at the University of Minnesota develop Gopher, a new internet protocol and early competitor to the web. Gopher organizes documents using a tight hierarchy that can be accessed through Gopher clients, similar to web browsers.

“Surf the Net”

Brendan Kehoe, while inquiring about a troublesome user on a Usenet newsgroup, coins the phrase “net-surfing.” Over time, surfing the net, will become a more or less common idiom.

WWW Virtual Library

In order to keep tabs on new websites, Tim Berners-Lee creates a hypertext list on the CERN site he calls the WWW Virtual Library. To get on the list, site owners could personally email Berners-Lee their link, and he would add it. The Library would later move to its own site.

The Importance of Being on Usenet

Tim Berners-Lee Announces the WWW

Berners-Lee, responding to a thread on the alt.hypertext Usenet newsgroup, publicly announces the World Wide Web project for the first time. In the coming months, Berners-Lee would use other newsgroups to help spread word about the web.

A Brief History of Hypertext

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)

Tim Berners-Lee publicly links to a draft of HTML on the www-talk mailing list. HTML is a hypertext markup language used by developers to create websites, and is the foundation of the WWW. The language itself was influenced by similar efforts like SGML, but has since evolved into a lot more.

The HTTP Protocol

As part of his specification for the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee introduces HTTP as a way for clients (web browsers) to communicate with servers. The first draft, HTTP v0.9, includes only one method, a GET request, used by clients as a read-only way to retrieve web pages.

BBEdit

BBEdit releases the first version of their text editor with the unique slogan “It doesn’t suck.” A few years later, BBEdit 4.0 would make HTML editing a core feature, with support for syntax highlighting and uploading directly to a web server.

Veronica Search Engine

Veronica is created as a new Gopher server type specifically built for indexing and searching other Gopher servers. Veronica was able to index results from thousands of servers at time, and translate a text based search into a list of available documents.

NCSA Mosaic

NCSA releases Mosaic version 1.0, developed by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina. It features inline multimedia, an easy to use GUI, and visual elements for web designers to make use of. Soon after launch, Mosaic would become the most popular browser on the market.

The Origin of the IMG Tag

How We Searched Before Search

NCSA What’s New

NCSA, the company behind Mosaic, creates What’s New, a webpage that highlights the most popular new sites updated every weekday. The page is added to the Mosaic browser homepage and receives quite a bit of traffic.

World Web Wanderer first deployed

Using web crawling technology he invented, Matthew Gray develops the World Wide Web Wanderer. The WWWW collects data about websites and stores it in a single database called the Wandex, offering some search-like functionality and a snapshot of the web’s global usage and spread.

Global Network Navigator

Often referred to as the web’s first commercial publication, GNN is an interactive guide to the web that contains news stories and links to popular sites. It is updated regularly and would later become the first site to experiment with advertising.

W3Catalog

Oscar Nierstrasz publishes W3Catalog. The website is able to automatically compile several curated lists, like What’s New and the WWW Virtual Library, into one place using a web scraper built by Nierstrasz.

HTML+

Dave Raggett publishes HTML+, a specification that extends HTML which had, at the time, grown stagnant. Included in HTML+ are many features that had already been implemented by browsers, such as tables and advanced forms. HTML+ would go on as an inspiration for HTML 3.2.