World Wide Web
We are only 4 days away from the end of the month and one of the best and funniest challenges I’ve taken in my life, that is the A2Z challenge. Today is the “W” letter day, so I should tell you the story of an invention starting with the letter “W”. And this invention must be (According to my theme) a world-changing one. This would be the invention of the World Wide Web.
Previously, we told the story of the invention of the Internet. Many people do the huge mistake of mixing between the “Internet” and the “WWW” to be of the same meaning. Actually I already stated the difference before in the “Internet” post, and I will quote it again:
The Internet is a massive network of networks, a networking infrastructure. It connects millions of computers together globally, forming a network in which any computer can communicate with any other computer as long as they are both connected to the Internet. Information that travels over the Internet does so via a variety of languages known as protocols.
The World Wide Web, or simply Web, is a way of accessing information over the medium of the Internet. It is an information-sharing model that is built on top of the Internet. The Web uses the HTTP protocol, only one of the languages spoken over the Internet, to transmit data. Web services, which use HTTP to allow applications to communicate in order to exchange business logic, use the the Web to share information. The Web also utilizes browsers, such as Internet Explorer or Firefox, to access Web documents called Web pages that are linked to each other via hyperlinks. Web documents also contain graphics, sounds, text and video.
The Web is just one of the ways that information can be disseminated over the Internet. The Internet, not the Web, is also used for e-mail, which relies on SMTP, Usenet news groups, instant messaging and FTP. So the Web is just a portion of the Internet, albeit a large portion, but the two terms are not synonymous and should not be confused.
The web was originally conceived to meet the demand for automatic information sharing between scientists working in laboratories in different universities and institutes all over the world. The program Berners-Lee wrote not only addressed that demand, it also unlocked a global post office without mailmen, stamps or paper — and a bit more.
“The dream behind the web is of a common information space,” Berners-Lee explained years after he wrote his ground-breaking program. “There was a second part of the dream, too, dependent on the Web being so generally used it became a realistic mirror — or, in fact, the primary embodiment — of the ways in which we work and play and socialize. ”
In 1984 Berners-Lee returned to CERN (he worked there for the first time in 1980), and considered its problems of information presentation:
physicists from around the world needed to share data, and with no common machines and no common presentation software. He wrote a proposal in March 1989 for “a large hypertext database with typed links”, but it generated little interest. His boss, Mike Sendall, encouraged Berners-Lee to begin implementing his system on a newly acquired NeXT workstation.
He considered several names, including Information Mesh, The Information Mine (turned down as it abbreviates to TIM, the WWW’s creator’s name) or Mine of Information (turned down because it abbreviates to MOI which is “Me” in French), but settled on World Wide Web. He has since stated “None had quite the right ring. I liked WWW partly because I could start global variable names with a W and not have them clash with other peoples’ (in a C world) …in fact I used HT for them)”.
By Christmas 1990, Berners-Lee had built all the tools necessary for a working Web: the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) 0.9, the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the first Web browser (named WorldWideWeb, which was also a Web editor), the first HTTPserver software (later known as CERN httpd), the first web server (http://info.cern.ch), and the first Web pages that described the project itself. The browser could access Usenet newsgroups and FTP files as well. However, it could run only on the NeXT; Nicola Pellow therefore created a simple text browser that could run on almost any computer called the Line Mode Browser. To encourage use within CERN, Bernd Pollermann put the CERN telephone directory on the web — previously users had to log onto the mainframe in order to look up phone numbers.
“The WorldWideWeb (WWW) project aims to allow all links to be made to any information anywhere. […] The WWW project was started to allow high energy physicists to share data, news, and documentation. We are very interested in spreading the web to other areas, and having gateway servers for other data. Collaborators welcome!” —from Tim Berners-Lee’s first message
Starting from 1992, the WWW started to grow and different browsers were developed. And of course, the Dot-Com boom that appeared from 1997 to 2000. WWW is now a critical part of our life. Scientific research is progressing much much faster now, because of the WWW. Can you imagine your life without the technology that enables you to read these lines right now?