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The Web's first stirrings

'As we may think' [Bush 1945] details Dr. Bush's view of the future of science after the war.  It details the things that scientists should work on to bring in a new age.  It goes into detail about technology that we use in our everyday lives, in terms of the day.  The technology that Dr. Bush mentions in this article is very forward thinking and includes things that resemble our current computers, digital cameras, mass storage of information (such as mini-hard drives, CD's, and DVD's) on small sized media, speech recognition systems, credit cards, the Web and much more.

The Timeline below was condensed primarily from the following two sources:

Pre Web creation history (1945-1989)

1945 July   "As we may think" [Bush 1945], by Vannevar Bush
1965   The term "Hypertext" is coined by Ted Nelson
1968   The first Hypertext system is produced and demonstrated by Douglas Engelbart on the 9th December at the Fall Joint Computer Conference.  Along with this, other innovations such as the mouse and shared computer screens were demonstrated.
1979   SGML (Standard Generalised Markup Language) is invented by Charles Goldfarm.  HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is based on SGML.
1980   Berners-Lee creates "Enquire" [Berners-Lee WtW] a notebook program, "Enquire-Within-Upon-Everything", which allows links to be made between arbitrary nodes. Each node had a title, a type, and a list of bi-directional typed links.
1981   In "Literary Machines" Nelson [1981] describes a worldwide publication system ("Xanadu").
1987   CERN and US laboratories connect to the Internet as the main means of exchanging data.

This timeline gives some indication of the events that led up to and influenced Berners-Lee's proposal.  As can be seen, there are several events that preceded Berners-Lee's proposal to create what was later named the World Wide Web (until 1990 it was named 'Mesh').  The pre-web time scale, starting from Bush's article, is considerably larger (1945-1987, 42 years) than the post-web time scale below (1989-1995, 6 years).  This is because after the Web was first introduced, it picked up momentum very quickly, and has kept increasing its momentum to this day.  The timeline below details some of the important steps that have led the Web to where it is at the present time.

Post Web creation history (1989-1995)

1989-March   First project proposal for a networked Hypertext system for CERN (the Web is born) written and circulated for comment (Berners-Lee).
  Paper "HyperText and CERN" produced as background.
1990-September   Mike Sendall, Berners-Lee's boss, OKs the purchase of a NeXT cube processor, and allows him to go ahead.  He selects "World Wide Web" as a name for the project (over Information Mesh, and others).
1990-November   Initial WorldWideWeb prototype developed on the NeXT (Berners-Lee).
  Nicola Pellow joins and starts work on a line-mode web browser.
  Berners-Lee gives a colloquium on hypertext in general.
1990-Christmas   Line mode and NeXTStep web browsers demonstrable.
  Access is possible to hypertext files, CERNVM "FIND", and Usenet.
1991-May-17   Presentation to C5 committee and general release of WWW on central CERN machines.
1991-June-12   CERN Computer Seminar on WWW.
1991-August   Files available on Usenet, posted on alt.hypertext (6, 16, 19th Aug), (20th), comp.text.sgml and comp.mail.multi-media (22nd).
1991-October   VMS/HELP and WAIS gateways installed.
  Mailing lists www-interest (now www-announce) and www-talk at are started.
  One year status report.
  Anonymous telnet service is started.
1992   The world has 50 web servers.
1992-January-15   Line mode web browser v1.1 is available by anonymous FTP.
  Presentation to AIHEP'92 at La Londe.
1992-February-12   Line mode v1.2 is announced on alt.hypertext, comp.infosystems, comp.mail.multi-media, cern.sting, comp.archives.admin, and mailing lists.
1992-July   Distribution of WWW through CernLib, including Viola. WWW library code ported to DECnet.
  Report to the Advisory Board on Computing.
1993   50 Web servers grows to 250.
  The Mosaic browser is created.
1994   2500 Web servers.
1995   73500 Web servers.
  Sun creates HotJava.

The following sums up the Web, as it was just a couple of years after it was created.

WorldWideWeb - Summary (1991-1992)

The WWW project merges the techniques of networked information and hypertext to make an easy but powerful global information system.

The project represents any information accessible over the network as part of a seamless hypertext information space.

W3 was originally developed to allow information sharing within internationally dispersed teams, and the dissemination of information by support groups.  Originally aimed at the High Energy Physics community, it has spread to other areas and attracted much interest in user support, resource discovery and collaborative work areas.  It is currently the most advanced information system deployed on the Internet, and embraces within its data model most information in previous networked information systems.

In fact, the Web is an architecture which will also embrace any future advances in technology, including new networks, protocols, object types and data formats. (Berners-Lee)
W3 Status: Historical interest

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