The History of the World Wide Web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist, invented the World Wide Web in 1989 while working at CERN. He was born in London, and his parents were early computer scientists, working on one the earliest computers.

He recalls ” I made some electronic gadgets to control the trains. Then I ended up getting more interested in electronics than trains. Later in college, I made a computer out of an old television set.”

After graduating from Oxford University, Barners-Lee became a software engineer at CERN, the large particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. Sir Tim noticed that scientists were having difficulty sharing information.

”In those days, there was different information on different computers, but you had to log on to different computers to get at it” Tim thought he saw a way to solve this problem. In 1989, Tim laid out his version of what would become the web in a document called ”Information Management: A Proposal”. Tim’s initial proposal was not immediately accepted, however over time, his boss Mike managed to give Tim time to work on it in September 1990.

By October of 1990, Tim had written three fundamental technologies that remain the foundation of today’s web:

  • HTML: HyperText Markup Language. The markup (formatting) language for the web.
  • URI: Uniform Resource Identifier. A kind of “address” that is unique and used to identify to each resource on the web. It is also commonly called a URL.
  • HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Allows for the retrieval of linked resources from across the web.

Tim also wrote the first web page editor/browser (“”) and the first web server (“httpd“). By the end of 1990, the first web page was served on the open internet, and in 1991, people outside of CERN were invited to join this new web community.

As the web began to grow, Tim realised that its true potential would only be unleashed if anyone, anywhere could use it without paying a fee or having to ask for permission. So, Tim and others advocated ensuring that CERN would agree to make the underlying code available on a royalty-free basis, forever. This decision was announced in April 1993, and sparked a global wave of creativity, collaboration and innovation never seen before. In 2003, the companies developing new web standards committed to a Royalty Free Policy for their work. In 2014, the year we celebrated the web’s 25th birthday, almost two in five people around the world were using it.

As of January 2023, there were 5.16 billion internet users worldwide, which is 64.4 per cent of the global population.


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