theDiagonal doesn’t normally post “newsy” items. So, we are making an exception in this case for two reasons: first, the “web” wasn’t around in 1989 so we wouldn’t have been able to post a news release on our blog announcing its birth; second, in 1989 Tim Berners-Lee’s then manager waved off his proposal with a “Vague, but exciting” annotation, so without the benefit of the hindsight we now have and lacking in foresight that we so desire, we may just have dismissed it. The rest, as they say “is history”.
Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee today returned to the birthplace of his brainchild, 20 years after submitting his paper ‘Information Management: A Proposal’ to his manager Mike Sendall in March 1989. By writing the words ‘Vague, but exciting’ on the document’s cover, and giving Berners-Lee the go-ahead to continue, Sendall signed into existence the information revolution of our time: the World Wide Web. In September the following year, Berners-Lee took delivery of a computer called a NeXT cube, and by December 1990 the Web was up and running, albeit between just a couple of computers at CERN*.
Today’s event takes a look back at some of the early history, and pre-history, of the World Wide Web at CERN, includes a keynote speech from Tim Berners-Lee, and concludes with a series of talks from some of today’s Web pioneers.
“It’s a pleasure to be back at CERN today,” said Berners-Lee. “CERN has come a long way since 1989, and so has the Web, but its roots will always be here.”
The World Wide Web is undoubtedly the most well known spin-off from CERN, but it’s not the only one. Technologies developed at CERN have found applications in domains as varied as solar energy collection and medical imaging.
“When CERN scientists find a technological hurdle in the way of their ambitions, they have a tendency to solve it,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “I’m pleased to say that the spirit of innovation that allowed Tim Berners-Lee to invent the Web at CERN, and allowed CERN to nurture it, is alive and well today.”