In March 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist working at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, wrote a document which changed the world. Information Management: A Proposal, despite its rather academic sounding title, contained the original proposal for the world wide web, the invention which has fundamentally altered the way we communicate, do business, shop, use software, and much, much more.
The origins of the web may have been a humble proposal document, but its scope was ambitious: to create a web of linked hypertext pages which could be viewed by browsers on a network.
The idea was that, by using a web browser, you could view web pages containing text, images and other multimedia, and navigate between them using hyperlinks. Slowly but surely web sites popped up around the world, and international standards for domain names and HTML, the markup language for web pages, soon followed.
The internet and the web are often used interchangeably, but in fact the internet is the global network of interconnected computers which allowed the web to exist by sharing data. This is made possible by packet switching using the Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) standard.
Ideas around the formation of a web first began to gain traction when the desktop PC landed in the late 1980s, but it was Berners-Lee who focused on the notion of using the internet to share documents, according to Wendy Hall, professor of computer science at Southampton University, and founding director of the Web Science Research Initiative.
"Tim pulled together ideas of a markup language, getting files on the internet and hypertext," she explained. "The things that made it work were open standards and protocols so anyone could set up their own web server and HTML documents, the fact that it was completely distributed and scalable, and that it worked over the network."
"When broadband hit us in the late 1990s there was an explosion in people with access to the internet, and the number of sites and the rate at which they grew," said Hall. "Then we reached web scale, where it was worthwhile everyone being a part of it. But you couldn't find stuff, so we got the search engine with Google."
Yet after the boom in commercial sites in the late 1990s came the inevitable crash, as unrealistic business models, combined with technology not yet able to deliver on its promise, took their toll. Since then, the web has witnessed an unparalleled level of innovation and growth, explained Ovum analyst Mike Davis.
"The exciting stuff has happened in the past three to five years, with the massive increases in speed and ubiquity of access through all sorts of devices, " he said.
However, in the past couple of years, the unexpected consequence of this has been the failure of many sites to cope with peaks in traffic.
Geoengineering on the sea floor near glaciers would form a new ice shelf to prevent melting
Alterations in capillary blood flow can be caused by body position change
Curiosity rover is in 'normal mode' but not transmitting scientific data back to base
NatWest outage comes a day after Barclays' IT systems shut out customers and staff