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Chapter 12. World Wide Web > Origins and Development of the World Wide Web

Origins and Development of the World Wide Web

The World Wide Web (also called WWW or the Web) has worked its way into virtually every aspect of modern life, an astounding fact considering that just a short decade ago it was nothing more than an idea living inside a computer scientist's head. That scientist was Tim Berners-Lee, who, while working at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), needed to devise a way in which scientific data could easily be shared simultaneously with physicists around the world. Along with Robert Cailliau, he designed the first Web browser in 1990 to allow scientists to access information remotely without the need to reformat the data.

This new communications technology developed by Berners-Lee and Cailliau transmitted data to viewers via the Internet, which by the early 1990s already existed as a global network linking numerous educational and government institutions worldwide. The Internet served for decades as a means for exchanging electronic mail (email), transferring files, and holding virtual conversations in newsgroups, although data shared online was typically static and text only. The new idea provided data in hypertext format, which made it easier for far-removed scientists to view the electronic library at CERN's information server. The hypertext data could even incorporate graphics and other file formats, a practice virtually unknown to Internet users of the time.


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