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World Wide Web at 35

WWW,Web,CERN50,Golden Jubilee Photos
Tim Berners-Lee invented and developed the World Wide Web as an essential tool for high energy physics at CERN from 1989 to 1994. Together with a small team he conceived HTML, http, URLs, and put up the first server and the first 'what you see is what you get' browser and html editor. (Image: CERN)

Thirty-five years ago, a young computer expert working at CERN wrote a proposal that combined accessing information with a desire for broad connectivity and openness. This proposal went on to become the World Wide Web (WWW), whose impact on society has been profound.  

Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s first proposal in March 1989 was for an internet-based hypertext system to link and access information across different computers. In November 1990, this “web of information nodes in which the user can browse at will” was formalised as a proposal, “WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project”, by Berners-Lee, together with a CERN colleague, Robert Cailliau. By Christmas that year, Berners-Lee had implemented key components, namely html, http and URL, and created the first Web server, browser and editor (WorldWideWeb). This server is now exhibited in the Laboratory’s new visitor centre, CERN Science Gateway.

CERN released the WWW software into the public domain on 30 April 1993, making it freely available for anyone to use and improve. This decision encouraged the use of the Web, and society to benefit from it.

Now, thirty-five years since his original proposal, Sir Tim Berners-Lee reflects on the web’s trajectory in an open letter and states how we, as engaged citizens, can "re-shape a digital future that prioritises human well-being, equity, and autonomy".