The first Web server, used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Image Source: Wiki.
On 12 March 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web at CERN. Google commemorated the event by asking him to write a guest post on its blog:
Today is the web’s 25th birthday. On March 12, 1989, I distributed a proposal to improve information flows: “a ‘web’ of notes with links between them.”
Though CERN, as a physics lab, couldn’t justify such a general software project, my boss Mike Sendall allowed me to work on it on the side. In 1990, I wrote the first browser and editor. In 1993, after much urging, CERN declared that WWW technology would be available to all, without paying royalties, forever.
This decision enabled tens of thousands to start working together to build the web. Now, about 40 percent of us are connected and creating online. The web has generated trillions of dollars of economic value, transformed education and healthcare and activated many new movements for democracy around the world. And we’re just getting started.Many luminaries have visited Twitter to wish the World Wide Web happy birthday under hashtag #web25, including:
How has this happened? By design, the underlying Internet and the WWW are non-hierarchical, decentralized and radically open. The web can be made to work with any type of information, on any device, with any software, in any language. You can link to any piece of information. You don’t need to ask for permission. What you create is limited only by your imagination.
So today is a day to celebrate. But it’s also an occasion to think, discuss—and do. Key decisions on the governance and future of the Internet are looming, and it’s vital for all of us to speak up for the web’s future. How can we ensure that the other 60 percent around the world who are not connected get online fast? How can we make sure that the web supports all languages and cultures, not just the dominant ones? How do we build consensus around open standards to link the coming Internet of Things? Will we allow others to package and restrict our online experience, or will we protect the magic of the open web and the power it gives us to say, discover, and create anything? How can we build systems of checks and balances to hold the groups that can spy on the net accountable to the public? These are some of my questions—what are yours?
On the 25th birthday of the web, I ask you to join in—to help us imagine and build the future standards for the web, and to press for every country to develop a digital bill of rights to advance a free and open web for everyone. Learn more at webat25.org and speak up for the sort of web we really want with #web25.
- Richard Branson, who wrote: "What do you think the next 25 years hold? I hope we’ll have wifi on the moon!"
- The British Monarchy: "Happy 25th Birthday to the WWW! @timberners_lee has made it easier for us to connect with people in the UK and the Commonwealth."
- British PM David Cameron: "Happy 25th birthday to the world wide web – a truly great British invention from @timberners_lee"
- Jimmy Wales: co-founder of Wikipedia: "The freedom to talk, to know, to learn, to let us take power and move the world."
- Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Digital Agenda: "For 25 years the world wide web has been a platform for change and a breeding ground for new ideas. It’s a place that knows no borders and the natural home of open, unlimited innovation, and a source of hope and inspiration for those in Europe and across the world."
- Nigel Shadbolt, co-founder of the Open Data Institute: "The values of the Web are the best of us – open, universal, accessible. We must keep those values alive. Thank you @timberners_lee #web25"
- Rebecca MacKinnon, writer: "Keeping the Web open & free is like keeping society open & free. Freedom isn’t “free.” It takes work and struggle. #web25 #netfreedom"
- Vint Cerf, Internet Pioneer, Chief Internet Evangelist, Google: "The WWW was conceived 25 years ago in 1989; commercial Internet services were just coming online. Happy 25th birthday!"
- Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law and Computer Science, Harvard University: "Happy 25th birthday, World Wide Web! You are among the most amazing of human achievements. Although, knowing you, are you sure you’re not really in your 50s and simply posing as a 25-year-old…?"
- Dame Wendy Hall, Dean of Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, University of Southhampton: "I can’t believe it’s 25 years since Tim wrote the proposal describing the system that was going to change the world. In some ways it seems like yesterday but trying to remember what life was like without the Web is a real stretch these days - it’s a different world. It’s time to celebrate how far we’ve come since those heady early days when the Web was in it’s infancy. We watched it grow and evolve at a phenomenal rate - in awe and wonder at what was being achieved. Now it has become an integral part of the fabric of our lives and defines the nature of the digital planet."
- Kathy Brown, President and CEO of the Internet Society: "In a short time, the Web has matured and grown into a worldwide platform for interaction, community, and commerce. Along the way, it has changed the way people collaborate, the way organizations communicate, and it has transformed the world. The Internet Society is pleased to join W3C, the World Wide Web Foundation, and billions of Internet users around the world in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web."
- Russ Housley, Internet Architecture Board Chair: "The IAB joins the W3C and World Wide Web Foundation in celebrating the 25th year of the World Wide Web. The open technologies and principles underpinning the web have driven a remarkable era of highly available information, open channels for self-publication, and new abilities to link the two."
- Gene Kimmelman, President and CEO, Public Knowledge: "The Web is becoming an essential platform for human rights, free expression and movements to democratize and bring social justice across the globe. As we celebrate its 25 years of success today, we must also recognize how harmful governmental control and corporate consolidation can undermine the web’s future. Now is the time to use the Internet as a tool to galvanize public support to preserve the web’s potential to bolster human rights and justice."