The world’s first public website is 26 years young

The internet is 26 years young on August 23 2017. How old do you feel?

On August 23, we celebrate Internaut Day. It’s a day in history when the internet killed the TV star. Yes, the world was to be forever changed by the 1991 release of the very first public website launched by Tim Berners-Lee, the same man that gave us the World Wide Web (WWW) – the WWW Day is also celebrated in August.

What is an internaut?

This is simply a hybrid of the words ‘internet’ and ‘astronaut’ and is used to describe the first voyagers on the public internet.

What did the first website look like?

The very first website was basic. No fancy website design. No built in web apps. No need for an experienced website designer (not that they existed then). It was a simple page detailing the World Wide Web Project set out by Berners-Lee and CERN. It offered free information on how new users could set up their own web server, create their own website and how to search for data and information using a browser on the internet.

Why this might not be the web anniversary we’re looking for?

While August 23 is the official anniversary for Internaut Day, it contradicts the information released by the World Wide Web Foundation (founding director: Tim Berners-Lee). According to the Foundation, development for the first browser, named World Wide Web, as well as editor, servers and line-mode browser began in 1990, culminating in the first web page on the open internet in December that same year.

Despite this being the official launch, the wider world wasn’t exposed to this new-fangled idea. Skip to August 6, Berners-Lee published an overview of the World Wide Web project on a number of online newsgroups, including the popular “alt.hypertext”, which was for hypertext fanatics. This move marked the debut of the World Wide Web with the source code actually released into the public domain in April 1993.

What did the internet look like before the World Wide Web?

The internet from the 80’s to the 90’s is much like what Virtual Reality is to those who aren’t web designers, web app developers and technology nerds. The internet you know and love now is nothing like one pre-Web. In fact, the internet throughout the 80’s and 90’s was almost entirely a text-based world called BBS, which you dialled into via a modem and were presented with a textual menu of the things you could do. According to iFactory’s based in Brisbane team of web developers who were dabbling in the internet pre-web, it was a place comprised completely of nerds as a place to talk about computers and Star Trek via newsgroups, share files and play basic games.

Finding out about newsgroups was archaic compared to the “just Google it” days we now live in. A user would need to find out about groups via magazine articles and reviews, and would then need to buy and download software to access the group. The groups would experience delays of many hours before anyone would be able to seen by other members in the group. Users could also send files via FTP and if you wanted to search FTP site, a service called Archie existed.

iFactory is a leading digital and creative agency based in Brisbane. If you’re looking for a sophisticated web presence through digital marketing,  web design or web applications, get in contact with us today.

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