This past Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of when the first public website went online on August 6, 1991—a date that effectively marked the start of the web as a widely available tool. The site is a basic text page with hyperlinked terms explaining how the webpage project work, and still remains active and accessible to this day.
Created by Britain’s Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who at the time was a computer programmer at CERN’s European Organization for Nuclear Research, the site was intended to describe his idea of a “universal linked information service.”
“The WWW project merges the techniques of information retrieval and hypertext to make an easy but powerful global information system,” said Berners-Lee on the world’s first public website. “The project started with the philosophy that much academic information should be freely available to anyone.”
Berners-Lee first came up with the idea of the web in 1989, with the objective being to use the global internet platform—which itself was still in its infancy—to host pages that anyone could access. Over the next two years, Berners-Lee wrote code and designed the first web page using the NeXT computer pictured below, which went live 25 years ago this past weekend.
With the World Wide Web still being such a new concept in 1991, some explanation of the website was needed—including details of what this new invention was, how to access it, and how interested programmers could contribute to the project.
Despite Berners-Lee’s original approach of treating the website more as a platform for academic collaboration rather than a technological revolution, it is undeniable that the events of 1991 were a catalyst for the fundamental shift in global communication and information-sharing that continues today.
According to statistics from The Telegraph, by late 1993 there were over 500 known web servers, and World Wide Web accounted for 1% of internet traffic. Two decades later, there were an estimated 630 million websites online.