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World Wide Web Turns 20

August 8, 2011

On Saturday, the World Wide Web celebrated its 20th birthday, as it was on August 6, 1991, that Tim Berners-Lee first posted a project-summary, using Hypertext Mark-Up Language (HTML), on a computer network that utilized a so-called web of hyperlinks, various media outlets reported.

On that date, CNET’s Devin Brown reported Saturday, the World Wide Web (W3) “made its debut as a publicly available service on the Internet.”

Berners-Lee, who was born in London on June 8, 1955, is credited as the primary creator of the Web, and the system of text links that would ultimately turn the Internet into a useful tool for the masses. He wrote the original software for the W3 in 1990 before publishing it the following year. He would go on to join the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to technology and the Web’s lasting legacy.

“There have been some definite downsides to the Web, such as online predation and a reduction in privacy, but the good has far outweighed the bad,” Brown wrote. “Web companies have created millions of jobs across the globe, opened people up to different cultures and ideas, and created a level of transparency in politics that’s never quite been achieved before.”

“Through social, economic, and political actions online, the world has become entirely different than it was two decades ago,” he added. “News travels faster than ever; every single person with access to the Internet has a voice to vent frustration or foster a following; and social interactions have become more varied and far-reaching”¦ The Web has changed the way people think and revolutionized the world as we know it in a remarkably short period of time.”

TechCrunch’s John Biggs also reflected on the occasion.

“In the past two decades we’ve been given ecommerce and spam, we’ve torn down the music, news, and publishing industries, and we’ve LOLed at more CATS than we can count,” he wrote. “We’ve seen empires rise and fall, the dissolution of the line between public and private, and the end of enforceable copyright. We’ve seen new modes of communication drive out unwanted regimes at home and abroad and we’ve heard the endless howl of a million voices calling out at once.”

According to the website Electronista, there are an estimated 17.91 billion web pages that have been indexed on Internet search engines, and counting non-indexed pages and global Intranets, that number increased to nearly 50 billion worldwide.

“From clunky modems to smartphones, Web-based technology has come a long way,” said Brown. “The only question is how far will it continue to evolve in the next 20 years?”

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