Happy Birthday to the Web – World’s First Website Back Online

Original proposal for the Word Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee.

Original proposal for the Word Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee.

The Web turned 20 this week, on Tuesday April 30.

It was on that day back in 1993 that Tim Berners-Lee, father of the Web, and CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) made the very first website public.

Though that historic world’s first website went offline long ago, it was recently recreated and is once again live at its original URL. We encourage you to take a look back to the future: http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html

No, it’s not much to look at. But it is one of the major milestones in the history of both technology and culture.

Also of historical importance on this anniversary of the Web is Berners-Lee’s original 1989 proposal to CERN to convince them to back his idea for the Web (which at the time he was calling “Mesh”). See the proposal for the Web.

It’s astounding to think: Just 20 years ago there was one lone website. Today there are an estimated 630 million websites, according to CERN.

Also astounding: EarthLink’s 20-year anniversary is just 11 months away in March 2014.

I knew EarthLink was founded in 1994, but it was just this week as the news reports came in about the 20th anniversary of the Web that it struck me just how close to the very beginnings of the Web EarthLink started.

And we’re still going strong.

From all of us here at EarthLink: Happy Birthday to the World Wide Web!

Does Someone Own the Interactive Web?

Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn invented TCP/IP and are considered the “fathers of the Internet.” But they don’t own the Internet.

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. But he doesn’t own it. He also designed and built the first Web browser and Web server. But he didn’t patent them and gets no royalties from those world-changing inventions. In fact, he founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in order to create standards and recommendations for the Web that were freely available to the public without royalties or other payments.

But plenty of other people have patented – and profited off – various Internet and Web innovations.

Interactive Web trial - Gavel PhotoThis Wired article reports that there’s a high-profile and potentially momentous trial under way this week in Texas brought by a man who claims he invented – and patented – the interactive Web by creating the first Web browser that supported plugins. His company claims that its patents cover extremely common Web technologies such as online video, search suggestion pop-ups, and interactive ecommerce technologies.

The man is Michael Doyle, and his company, Eolas, is seeking royalty payments from some of the biggest names on the Internet, including Google, Yahoo, and Amazon. Eolas had previously received a settlement from Microsoft in a similar patent case.

Many in the tech world fear that the suit, if successful, will stifle Web innovation. Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee himself testified for the defendants in the trial earlier this week and had previously signed a letter sent by W3C to the patent office claiming that upholding the Eolas patents would cause “disruption of global web standards” as well as “substantial economic and technical damage to the operation of the World Wide Web.”

A jury is set to determine if the Eolas patents are valid. If it does, three other trials are scheduled to determine damages. We’ll let you know the results. You can read more details now on Wired, CNet, and The Daily Mail.