Bubble Blog: From Outsider to Insider in Silicon Valley’s Web 2.0 Revolution Bubble Blog: From Outsider to Insider in Silicon Valley’s Web 2.0 Revolution

I’m excited to launch a web history project I’ve been working on for over a year now: a memoir called “Bubble Blog: From Outsider to Insider in Silicon Valley’s Web 2.0 Revolution”. I think fans of Web Development History will enjoy my new book, as it provides an inside look at how the web evolved in the first decade of the 2000s. If this interests you, the book is being serialized in my Substack newsletter, Cybercultural. You can subscribe for free to read the entire book.

Read More Announcing Bubble Blog, a Web 2.0 Memoir and History

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1993 was the year of Mosaic, the first truly multimedia web browser. The Web was still very niche by the end of 1993, but it was pushing on the door of the mainstream. Early adopters in companies like MTV were experimenting with it, while curious reporters were beginning to publicize it. CERN had done its part too, by gifting the World Wide Web to the world so that anyone was free to build on top of it.

Read More 1993: Mosaic Launches and the Web is Set Free

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