“The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past.” – Tim Berners-Lee

one man’s solution that lead to the internet

Before the internet revolution, it was very difficult to share information. In the 1980’s when the internet was just beginning to get a start, only about 15% of the U.S. population owned a computer. The machines that people did own were big, noisy, and incredibly slow. If you wanted to send your friend a file, you’d have to download it from your computer, physically walk over to their machine, and upload the file. This posed a large problem for many businesses and organizations. 

In 1989, an English engineer named Tim Berners Lee had a vision for a system that connected the world’s information. At the time he was working as a software engineer for CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory. He noticed that scientists and others at CERN regularly had difficulty retrieving information.

In an interview with W3.com he recalls, “In those days, there was different information on different computers, but you had to log on to different computers to get at it. Also, sometimes you had to learn a different program on each computer. Often it was just easier to go and ask people when they were having coffee…”

This was a problem that needed solving, and in 1989 he found the solution. He started a project based on the concept of hypertext, to make sharing information easier among researches. To demonstrate his idea, he built a software prototype called ENQUIRE. His ambition was to interlink documents from not one computer but many. ENQUIRE was a simple hypertext program that allowed him to do just that. This was the start to the world wide web, but soon he realized more was needed to connect the world.

In 1990, he wrote the first application to view the web called the World Wide Web. It was later renamed Nexus so as not to be confused with the abstract term World Wide Web. This allowed people to visit pages, share docs and information, and do so much more.