Exactly 25 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee submitted a proposal addressing the complex issue of information management at CERN. The project was based on linked information using hypertexts. Revolutionising the idea of archiving documents, it laid the foundation of the Internet.
In 1984, Tim Berners-Lee took up a fellowship at CERN, 8 years after his graduation from the Queen’s College at Oxford University, United Kingdom. His first job there was related with the distributed real-time systems for scientific data acquisition and system control. In this context T. Berners-Lee submitted the proposal that would provide the basis for one of the most powerful information tools of our epoch.
At that time, CERN faced a problem concerning how to share large quantities of information among thousands of scientists, and how to address issues relating to the loss of time and knowledge that result from the high turnover of people.
The solution proposed by T. Berners-Lee was based on the how documents were archived, rather than the structure of the documents themselves. He considered the use of hypertext as an alternative to hierarchical storage. Documents, people, software, keywords could be linked to each other regardless of the nature of the information. Also he introduced the idea of multiple users or readers of the same data.
Already at this time, T. Berners-Lee was aware of the potential of CERN to spread this tool. He wrote: “CERN is a model in miniature of the rest of world in a few years time”. The proposal suggests that he had the feeling of creating something big since he planned step by step the spread of hyperlinks “that individually and collectively we may understand what we are creating”.
The hyperlink-based system was developed in CERN and in 1993 the World Wide Web software was launched in the public domain and it has been flourishing since. In 2010, almost 30% of people were connected to the Internet.
More about the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web can be found on the dedicated website.