“Am I in?” – 30 years ago, the World Wide Web heralded a revolution of the century

WWW was released three decades ago. It has long been clear to everyone that this day completely changed our lives.

A picture from another time: In 1994, the scientist Tim Berners-Lee actually only wanted to simplify the exchange of information between colleagues.

A picture from another time: In 1994, the scientist Tim Berners-Lee actually only wanted to simplify the exchange of information between colleagues.Central Geneva

Without the World Wide Web, life was very (nicely) different. You have to explain that to younger people today: instead of shopping on the Internet, strolling through the city center, instead of detailed Wikipedia, the thick “Brockhaus” on the shelf, instead of clicking in online banking, transfer slips by post, instead of fast online dating, pictureless marriage advertisements in the newspaper, instead countless porn clips on the net individual sex films on video cassette.

But there was no wrong turn on the Internet, no misleading information overload, no cyberbullying. Of course, a lot of things in the previous offline everyday life were nasty and time-consuming.

30 years ago (April 30, 1993) the Cern directorate in Geneva released the WWW to the public free of charge. This has revolutionized the lives of billions of people – in terms of communication, work, information gathering, education, shopping, love and sex. New branches of the economy have emerged, as have new forms of crime.

License payments and patents waived

The historic step taken by the European nuclear research center Cern (Conseil européen pour la recherche nucléaire) to deliberately forgo license payments and patents for the global web made a significant contribution to the importance of the internet in its current form.

When the Internet (Arpanet) came into the world in 1969, the new type of network was only suitable for a few experts for decades to exchange ideas. Complicated commands were needed to communicate. Only with the invention of the WWW and browsers with layman-friendly interfaces did the Internet become a mass phenomenon – after e-mail another service that brought the net to life.

Marc Andreessen also achieved the breakthrough of the WWW for non-computer specialists in 1993. The student developed the Mosaic browser at the University of Illinois. Today many use Chrome (from Google), Safari (from Apple) or Firefox browsers. With graphical browsers, a mouse click was suddenly enough to be able to operate the Internet. It was only with browsers that companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook were able to emerge and become mega-corporations.

The digital trend strengthened by mobile Internet

The trend intensified with the mobile Internet. From 2007, Apple’s iPhone showed that anyone and everyone can “surf the Internet”, as the saying goes. When using smartphones, technical things seem to take a back seat.

Incidentally, the World Wide Web was founded by British physicist Tim Berners-Lee, who is only 67 years old today. At the end of the 1980s, the computer scientist wanted to curb the information chaos at CERN. In March 1989, he proposed to his employer a project based on hypertext to simplify the exchange of data between researchers worldwide. His colleague Robert Cailliau helped him. At Christmas 1990, Berners-Lee set up the world’s first web server (info.cern.ch). On August 6, 1991 he made the first website public on the Internet.

Berners-Lee’s development is based on three ideas: HTML, HTTP and URL. The text-based markup language “Hypertext Markup Language” describes how pages are formatted and linked on a wide variety of computer platforms. The “Hypertext Transfer Protocol” defines the technical channel that computers use to communicate over the Internet. And the “Uniform Resource Locator” (parent URI, “Universal Resource Identifier”) designates the web address with which content can be found on the web.

Mosaic browser inventor Andreessen (51 today) started working with Netscape 30 years ago to make his software the leading online platform. Microsoft founder Bill Gates (67 today) followed suit with his Explorer. In the “browser war” Netscape fell by the wayside. But don’t worry: According to Forbes, Andreessen is still – like Gates – a billionaire today. (dpa)

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