When the first website was born, it was probably quite lonely. And with few people having access to browsers – or to web servers so that they could in turn publish their own content – it must have taken a visionary leap of faith at the time to see why it was so exciting. The early WWW team, led by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, had such vision and belief. The fact that they called their technology the World Wide Web hints at the fact that they knew they had something special, something big.
In 1993 the WWW team wrote an advert for the web that appeared in Tagung Deutsches ForschungsNetz. They wrote:
“To find out about WWW:
telnet info.cern.ch [a command you would type into your network-enabled computer]
This will give you the very basic line-mode interface. Don’t be disappointed: use it to find out how to install it or more advanced graphical interface browsers on your local system.”
I think the ‘don’t be disappointed’ is crucial here: the WWW team knew that they had something revolutionary that could look rather ordinary, even disappointing. But they had an idea of what they were building.
The first URL was: http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html
For many years, this URL has been dormant, inactive. It simply redirected to the web host root of http://info.cern.ch
We just put the files back online, using the archive that is hosted on the W3C site. This is a 1992 copy of the first website. This may be the earliest copy that we can find, but we’re going to keep looking for earlier ones.
Take five minutes to browse the first website. Don’t be disappointed…