Twenty years ago, the Internet was a text-only method of communication used mostly by academic types and those who were really into computers. People shared files through FTP transfers and talked through e-mail and Usenet, which was a group of bulletin boards comprised of e-mail discussions.
Then, on August 6 1991, Tim Berners-Lee posted an item to the Usenet announcing the creation of the World Wide Web (or WorldWideWeb), a browser-based system to view hypertext. Or, as he said:
The WorldWideWeb (WWW) project aims to allow links to be made to any
information anywhere. … The WWW project was started to allow high energy physicists to share data,
news, and documentation. We are very interested in spreading the web to other
areas, and having gateway servers for other data.
It was a few more years before graphics could be viewed alongside all the text. But pretty soon after that, the Web was everywhere, and the Internet was no longer the domain of academic types or those who were really into computers. Even though I’d been online since ’92, it was still a few more years before I used the Web.
Things have certainly changed. For instance, this blog is slightly more advanced (though not much more mature) than the hand-coded site I made in college.
So if you find yourself being productive (or wasting time) online, thank a high-energy physicist.