50th Anniversary of the World Wide Web


The World Wide Web is a wonderful example of collaboration among the military (U.S. Department of Defense), hackers and academics. Today the Web is the communication platform that connects the world. And it was not meant for war! In fact, the idea behind it was to create a universal library, called the Intergalactic Computer Network–a computer networking concept similar to today’s Internet.

The connection between the first two nodes of the network was made between the Universities of Los Angeles and Stanford, U.S.A., in 1969. It was the beginning of a dream long desired by its designers at ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency), and it became the progenitor of the Internet. According to Joseph Robnett Licklider, an American psychologist and computer scientist, the idea was to make a universal library available to anyone from anywhere, foreshadowing what libraries should be like in the future.

The same dream of a universal library guided the hand of Tim Berners Lee when he designed the Web in 1989 in order to allow researchers at CERN, based in Geneva, Switzerland, to access all the knowledge necessary to advance scientific culture. He realized this idea by creating the hypertextual language that today allows us to browse the Web pages as if they were an interactive and multimedia book. But it was Larry Roberts who made Licklider’s dream come true. Licklider’s successor in realizing this project, Roberts developed the idea of Arpa Net (the computer network of ARPA) in 1967. His idea was to create a distributed network of computers to avoid the need for people to physically move from place to place and to maximize computing resources where they already existed. But he had to solve various problems, namely, how to connect computers through a normal telephone line, how to translate the language of different machines, and how to safeguard computer bits in the transmission process.