Twenty years ago today, on April 30 1993, the European science agency CERN officially made Berners-Lee’s WWW software public domain, giving the public access to the world wide web.
These simple technologies — the humble URL, HTTP, and HTML — were developed by Tim Berners-Lee at Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ:CERN) in the early ’90s. The idea of a Web was first proposed in 1989 and the working version was out in 1990.
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“There is no sector of society that has not been transformed by the invention, in a physics laboratory, of the Web,” Rolf Heuer, CERN director general, said in a statement.
“From research to business and education, the web has been reshaping the way we communicate, work, innovate and live. The Web is a powerful example of the way that basic research benefits humankind.”
Believing that software development would always stay ahead of any company trying to monopolize the Web as a commercial product, Berners-Lee and Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ:CERN) decided to release the code for the Web.
The decision to give the public access to the World Wide Web didn’t come easy.
“I was accosted in the corridors…. I listened carefully to people’s concerns. I also sweated anxiously behind my calm exterior…. On April 30, Robert [Cailliau] and I received a declaration, with a CERN stamp on it, signed by one of the directors, saying that Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ:CERN) agreed to allow anybody to use the Web protocol and code free of charge, to create a server or browser, to give it away or sell it, without any royalty or other constraint. Whew!” Tim explains in a book ‘Weaving the Web’.
To celebrate the anniversary, Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ:CERN) has launched a project to preserve and recreate all the digital assets linked with the birth of the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee’s original website is shown with the original link.
“For a start we would like to restore the first URL — put back the files that were there at their earliest possible iterations. Then we will look at the first web servers at CERN and see what assets from them we can preserve and share,” the agency writes on a website associated with the project.
The concept of URL came from the original UDI (universal document identifier), aimed to provide a single, global format to describe or locate any resource on the web, regardless of its host, ISP or web protocol.
All of Berners-Lee’s early WWW work was done on a NeXT Computer, created by Steve Jobs, after he left Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the ’80s.