1992 web browsers 1992 web browsers

Throughout 1992, there were just a scattering of websites on the World Wide Web — somewhere between ten and twenty. So the Web in 1992 was still a niche system, used almost entirely by academics. However, there were signs that the Web was starting to get noticed by people who used other internet protocols, like Gopher. Also, two significant new web browsers were launched: ViolaWWW and Erwise.

Read More 1992: The Web vs Gopher, and the First External Browsers

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The Web at the end of 1991 was still a tiny niche product used primarily by European academics, but it was primed to expand. The software was globally available via certain mailing lists, it was free to download and experiment with, its read/write browser application was engaging and simple to use, and the ability to click on a link to ‘jump’ to a web server across the world meant that the World Wide Web promised global access to information. All it needed was more people to test it out.

Read More 1991: Tim Berners-Lee Tries to Convert the Hypertext Faithful

Tim Berners-Lee coding the Web Tim Berners-Lee coding the Web

In the final few months of 1990, 35-year Tim Berners-Lee and his colleague Robert Cailliau developed the world’s first web client (a browser/editor), created the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), wrote the first web server, and tied it all together with an Internet communication protocol called Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). This led to the first web page at info.cern.ch, which was live by Christmas Day, 1990.

Read More 1990: Programming the World Wide Web

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By 1999, Netscape had fallen behind Microsoft in browser technology. It also had trouble navigating relationships — with both its new parent AOL and the developers of its open source project, Mozilla. By the end of 1999, Netscape was a startup shipwreck. Fortunately, the good ship Mozilla was in much sturdier shape.

Read More 1999: The Fall of Netscape and the Rise of Mozilla

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There were two stylistically opposed approaches to web design, epitomized by two distinct — and utterly different — technologies, both of which debuted in 1996. The first, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), represented structure. Design elements were to be encoded in a new language, CSS, as defined in a W3C web standards specification. The over-riding principle was separation of content and presentation, with content marked up in HTML and presentation in CSS. At the other end of the web design spectrum was the animation tool Flash, in which presentation and content were mashed together in one file.

Read More 1996: Flash and CSS Bring Design to the Web

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By the end of 1995, the foundational pieces of the open source LAMP stack for web development (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python) were in place. The acronym itself would not be coined for another few years, but the technology had arrived — albeit at varying stages of maturity and adoption. MySQL was initially an internal database system used by a Swedish company called TcX, from May 1995 onwards. It had been created by Michael (Monty) Widenius, and took a number of years to gain traction.

Read More 1995: MySQL Arrives, Completing the LAMP Stack

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1995 was a big year for web servers — it was when both the open source Apache and Microsoft’s IIS were launched. Apache and IIS ended up usurping their direct competitors (NCSA HTTPd and Netscape’s web servers, respectively). However, Apache was the web server that most influenced the future direction of web development.

Read More 1995: Apache and Microsoft IIS Shake Up the Web Server Market

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This post is to honour the one-year anniversary of the passing of Bill English, at age 91, on 26 July, 2020. English was Doug Engelbart’s right-hand man in the Mother of All Demos in 1968 and a key developer of the oN-Line System (NLS). The post below was initially part of a book I was writing about Engelbart. The book was eventually abandoned, but the memory of meeting English in 2014 remains. As does, I hope, the achievements of those SRI pioneers. RIP, Bill.

Read More The Time I Met Bill English

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It may seem like Microsoft won the browser war in 1998 (despite a looming anti-trust case), but looking back it, was actually the year the web started to open up. It was when open source projects like Mozilla and open standards like DOM began to steer the web towards a more open, equitable future. It was also the year that a coalition of independent web developers arrived on the scene to promote open standards — The Web Standards Project (WaSP). All of these developments would impact the web’s direction for years to come.

Read More 1998: Open Season with Mozilla, W3C’s DOM, and WaSP