A Press Release from the General Printing Office:
Twenty-five years ago on March 12, 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, wrote a paper proposing the system now known as the World Wide Web. (Left: 25 Years logo courtesy Marketing Magazine UK.) It was originally conceived and developed as an improved means for instantaneous information-sharing between scientists around the world.
From DOD’s ARPANet to an Internet
The Internet itself had actually started as a creation of the U.S. Government’s Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) together with U.S. universities. It was in response to the Cold War need for a backup communications method in case the traditional phone networks were knocked out. The resulting mainframe-to-mainframe computer network in 1969 was called ARPANet, the foundation for today’s Internet. (Read the History Channel’s history of the invention of the Internet here.) Soon, other organizations, mostly universities and military, created their own private networks. When the University College in London and the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway) connected to ARPANET in 1973, the term Internet was born.
In 1974, the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) was launched with the introduction of a commercial version of ARPANET, known as Telenet, thus expanding the availability of the Internet. After the introduction of a new protocol called TCP/IP by computer scientists Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn (called “The Fathers of the Internet”) in 1974, diverse computer networks could easily interconnect with each other, transforming the “Internet” into a truly global network by the end of the 1970s.
However, by 1990, frustrated CERN scientists were using the text-only Internet with its bulletin boards and limited mainframe messaging, but it was not user-friendly for either the end users or the publishers of content.
From a text-only Internet to a graphical World Wide Web
After Berners-Lee’s proposal received the go-ahead from his boss at CERN, he went on to write software in his spare time, creating the first World Wide Web server (“httpd”) and the first web client “WorldWideWeb.”
This “World Wide Web browser” was a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) hypertext browser/editor that would install on their client (end user) computers, providing them with the first graphical interface for accessing Internet content (think of clicking on hyperlinks, viewing photos and other graphical images, seeing text in different fonts, colors and sizes).
The World Wide Web was launched publicly on August 6, 1991, forever after providing the world a way to “browse the World Wide Web.”
Image: This NeXT workstation (a NeXTcube) was used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1990-1 as the first Web server on the World Wide Web. Source: Wikipedia
In a guest blog post today on Google’s official blog, Sir Tim Berners-Lee explains the results of his World Wide Web idea:
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.
So, thank you, Sir Tim! The rest, as they say, is history.
Below is a timeline of Internet history from 1990 to 2007:
GPO is joining in the celebration by commemorating our own moments in World Wide Web history:
1993: The Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993 was enacted (Public Law 103-40).
1994: GPO Access launched (available by subscription; free to Federal depository libraries)
1995: GPO Access became free to all users.
1995: GPO began selling Government publications online with its “Sales Product Catalog” (now the site known as the U.S. Government Bookstore)
1996: GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program Web site, “FDLP Administration,” launched (later named the FDLP Desktop and now FDLP.gov)
2000: GPO’s kids’ site, Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government, launched.
Image: Home page of Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids as of March 12, 2014.
2006: The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, launched.
2009: GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) launched.
2010: GPO entered the world of social media, first with the launch of its YouTube Channel.
2013: GPO relaunches its newly redesigned U.S. Government Bookstore ecommerce site at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/.