On August 23rd 1991, Tim Berners-Lee made the World Wide Web available to the public, setting the wheels in motion for a technological revolution which no one could have foreseen. His development of the very first live web page had been a work in progress since the mid-1980s, and through his work at CERN, Berners-Lee was able to refine the space until he felt it was ready for a global audience.
In early August, CERN users were given access to ‘the web’, and were invited to share their feedback on what would become the world’s biggest library. Just a few weeks later, the same access was given to everyone outside of CERN, and the modern day internet was born. In the words of Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web was designed to “give universal access to a large universe of documents”. So how did he ensure that the whole universe took advantage of such an opportunity?
“The decision to make the web an open system was necessary for it to become universal,” Berners-Lee explains. In keeping with his approach, his employers at CERN agreed to make the code required to create a webpage free to access and modify. This was significant, as it meant that anyone who wanted to could upload their own information onto the World Wide Web without any restrictions; and the more information that was uploaded, the more universal it became.
“You can’t want something to be universal and at the same time keep control of it,” says Berners-Lee, when explaining his desire to make everyone an administrator of his pioneering invention. And so it was, that this online library grew exponentially thanks to the contributions of millions of authors worldwide, and its growth was never limited by the number of books on the shelves. So long as the server on which a website is hosted allows for it, any number of people can access the same information at the same time – and they usually do.
25 years on, the World Wide Web is unrecognisable from the single page that Berners-Lee created. There are over a billion websites online today – a number which is growing at more than one per second – and the variety of content which is available is surely greater than even Berners-Lee could have foreseen. The World Wide Web has connected a generation, and created possibilities for organisations to better their service and improve their products.
Given that we started just a month after the World Wide Web went live, we have also seen incredible transformation in the industry and are continually excited by the opportunity for our customers to develop their skills and grow their business. Whilst it’s not easy to keep pace with such constant change, it enables us to offer more each day, and the power of the World Wide Web continues to empower us to achieve our goals.