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CERN celebrates the world wide web’s 20th birthday

Two decades as royalty free technology
Tue Apr 30 2013, 10:21
A close-up of Sir Tim Berners-Lee

A PROJECT AT CERN to celebrate the birth of the world wide web as royalty free technology is progressing nicely.

The project is set to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launch of the free and open web and centres around the first website. 

That initial address took visitors to a webpage of information about the world wide web, but had been changed to redirect web surfers to a CERN holding webpage. It is now live again and displaying the information that it did when it first went live.

"For many years, this URL has been dormant, inactive. It simply redirected to the web host root of," says a blog post by Dan Noyes, web manager in the CERN communications group on the CERN webpages.

"We just put the files back online, using the archive that is hosted on the W3C site. This is a 1992 copy of the first website. This may be the earliest copy that we can find, but we're going to keep looking for earlier ones."

The World Wide Web project page is fascinating, particularly its very brief history to date. It begins with Tim Berners-Lee and a proposal that was "circulated for comment".

"March 1989 First project proposal written and circulated for comment (TBL) . Paper "HyperText and CERN" (in ASCII or WriteNow format) produced as background," it says. Its last entry, from 2002, introduces CVS for code management.

This month Noyes posted up the original print advertisement for the World Wide Web (PDF). There users are asked to "try it" and directed to telnet Since then, we all know what happened.

"There is no sector of society that has not been transformed by the invention, in a physics laboratory, of the web", said CERN director-general Rolf Heuer.

"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."

The first website was hosted on Tim Berners-Lee's Next computer, which is still at CERN. µ


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