We take it for granted. It’s on our phones, it’s on our TVs, it’s everywhere. But none of this would be possible if it had not been for the very first web page. Credit for the invention of the World Wide Web goes to Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Before Dr. Lee invented the web page and the web browser, the internet was a very confusing set of individual computers with no real links between them. Today, we take point and click (or tap) functionality for granted but there was a time when it was so new that you had to explain it to people.
The very first web page is still alive. There isn’t a lot to it; the first version of the web protocols didn’t support pictures or fonts. Take a look at it:
The basics are there
The original idea for the World Wide Web was a lot more simple than it is today. Remember that the world ran on extremely slow dial-up connections back then. The goal was really just to show text that could link to other text. There wasn’t much more to it.
This page is hand-coded in HTML 1.0. Of course it is, since there were no HTML editors back then. In fact it’s possible they didn’t even call it HTML 1.0 yet, since it was just invented. It still works in current browsers because it’s so simple. Back then though, it was just intended to run in text-based browsers.
The first graphical browser
Truth be told, this isn’t really the first graphical browser, but NCSA Mosaic was the first graphical browser to make a difference. It’s the first browser that sort of “started it all.” Mosaic evolved into Netscape Navigator, then forked off to become Firefox. While it’s not the dominant browser in the world, it sure has been seen a lot. You can try Mosaic in an emulator here.
If you want to try other emulated browsers from back in the day, check out this browser emulator.
Web browsing in the future
The biggest change in the browsing experience has probably been the move to apps. Many apps are just fancy wrappers for a browsing experience. They aren’t as robust as actual browsers but they don’t need to be, since they just provide the experience the user needs.
The real question is where browsing will go in the future. The browser was looked at as a portal to the internet. The app made that portal less noticeable, but what would happen if there didn’t need to be a portal at all? What if the information and experiences you wanted were sort of … just there? I know that’s what a lot of people want to see, although it does seem kind of scary as I get older.
We sure have come a long way since the first browser, in ways that couldn’t have even been imagined back in 1989. Imagine what we’ll see in the next 23 years!