The World Wide Web is celebrating its twentieth anniversary as a free software offering given to the world by Cern – and the organisation has restored the first web URL to mark the historic occassion.
The concept of the web was invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 while working at the physics laboratory organisation in Geneva. Two years later in 1991, he published the first website and then on this date in 1993 Cern confirmed that it was giving the technology to the world to use as it wished.
“Cern relinquishes all intellectual property rights to this code, both source and binary form, and permission is granted for anyone to use, duplicate, modify and redistribute it,” it said in the letter published at the time.
However, there were some caveats to this gesture: “Cern provides absolutely no warranty of any kind with respect to this software. The entire risk as to the quality and performance of this software is with the user.”
This didn't perturb people, though, and the move helped usher in the web as we know it today, with anyone able to build upon its open structure to create websites, content portals and offer services, ranging from core enterprise services like Salesforce.com, to YouTube, to sites like V3.
In honour of the twentieth anniversary Cern has restored the first ever web URL as an active link, rather than simply as a redirect to a Cern information page, to honour the importance of the page in the web's history, as its web manager Dan Noyes explained in a blog.
"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," he said.
"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."
Cern was keen to tout the importance of the web and its move to offer the software and code for free, with director general Rolf Heuer underlining the huge impact the technology has had on the world.
“There is no sector of society that has not been transformed by the invention, in a physics laboratory, of the web”, he said.
“From research to business and education, the web has been reshaping the way we communicate, work, innovate and live. The web is a powerful example of the way that basic research benefits humankind.”
More information on Cern's project to restore the first components of the web can be found on its website.
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