Looking Back: 30 Years of the World Wide Web

search bar for internet floating over man's hand, says www.

Today marks the thirtieth anniversary of the birth of the World Wide Web. 30 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee submitted his proposal titled “Information Management” to CERN, a European physics lab.

The proposal asks the reader how scientists would manage increasingly large projects in the future. The proposal outlines the answer to that question. Which is what, in just a couple of years, would become what we know as the World Wide Web: a connected system for sharing information that would lead us into a communication revolution.

Thirty years ago, computer network systems had already been running and growing for years. Emails, message boards, shared files, and emoticons were not a strange concept to many, but the internet as it is today didn’t begin to take shape until the World Wide Web was introduced.

Open source code made it possible for anyone to create websites or browsers, and these web pages, browsers, and hyperlinks made the information available easy to find and easy to navigate.

The internet has reshaped itself in the last 30 years, but there are some really great memories of the World Wide Web of the past that we still are amused at, influenced by and have learned from.

This is just a short list of some of the influential sites and tech that has put us where we are today.

LiveJournal

One of the first variances of a social network was LiveJournal, a blog site where users could debate in comments as well as post original content, from writing pieces like fiction and poetry to visual art. LiveJournal still exists but is now owned by a Russian media company, with most of its original users scattering to Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and other social platforms.

Flickr

Photo sharing site Flickr was one of the web’s first forays into photo sharing since platforms like Friendster and MySpace were not photo-focused. The simple online gallery was a great platform for both pros and amateurs without the noise of other platforms that was the typical fare for sites in the early 2000s.

Amazon

Originally an online bookstore, Amazon was not always the giant retail/tech/entertainment conglomerate that it is today. Though it did take down some major bookstore chains early on, it was hard to predict that Amazon would become the phenomenon it is today.

CSS

Cascading Style Sheets or CSS made it easy to learn how to create usable and attractive webpages, separating HTML from how a page looks. CSS also allows you to inspect a site’s code, and with that function, you’re able to change just about anything with a small edit to the code.

Yahoo

Yahoo is one of the longest surviving search engines, and even with a dwindling influence, to this day remains a top visited website. Search engines really built the web, and Yahoo was a major player, bringing users news, sports, market reports, and email all in the same space.

eBay

eBay lingers in the strange space between a free-for-all like Craigslist and the more organized Amazon storefront. eBay is the go-to place for buying just about anything you could want (most of the time used) online, and the mass of items in the site’s catalog is still as obscure, useful to just about anyone, but also just as downright weird as it was at its inception.

Internet Archive

Internet Archive is exactly what it sounds like, an archive of the internet itself. Take a trip back in time to see just what the web looked like in years past. In Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine you can check out the 349 billion web pages that the archive has stored, and reminisce about internet days-gone-by.

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