Believe it or not, the seeds of modern internet browsing date back 30 years ago. The organization credited with developing the very earliest stages of it is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN. Engineers at the organization conceived the idea for web browsing in March 1989 before developing the first web browser, the WorldWideWeb, in December 1990. Now 30 years later, CERN is marking the WorldWideWeb anniversary by rebuilding the original web browser inside a contemporary one.
According to Engadget, the recreated browser enables young internet users of today to experience how the internet originally worked for their parents and grandparents. The original WorldWideWeb browser allows users to see what the internet was like before Google and the artificial intelligence neural networks which now automate our web experience.
In March 1989, two CERN engineers wrote and shared a proposal which included the development of a new program which would more easily manage information within the organization. The proposal was entitled “Information Management: A Proposal.” It took several revisions before the proposal brought about the first framework for a program. That framework was supposed to generate an interface for users to present their program, including links which transported users through the network to the necessary information. That enabled users to exchange information within the organization.
Then in November and December 1990, CERN engineer Tim Berners-Lee used a NeXT computer to develop the first version of an application he called WorldWideWeb, which was the root of the internet as we know it today. On Oct. 28, 1991, Berners-Lee also developed the World Wide Web mailing list, which has been running ever since. Although it’s rarely posted to today, the mailing list has recorded many of the innovations of the web through the last 28 years.
To mark the WorldWideWeb anniversary, CERN’s programmers decided to rebuild that original web browser, making it like a museum to show how the internet originally looked. They also put together a website outlining the development process, the coding, history, timeline, and typography to explain how the original application was created.
What’s especially interesting is that the recreated WorldWideWeb is exactly like the original browser was: unstable and unreliable. It’s very glitchy, and not everything works smoothly. As a result, the browser may spark similar anxiety and stress in users as the original one did by taking a long time to load pages — if they even load at all. Some sections in the browser don’t seem to work at all.
The WorldWideWeb rebuild shows us that approaches to web development have vastly changed over the years. However, what we search on the web hasn’t changed much.