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The Worlds First Website Launched 30 Years Ago

On August 6, 1991, the first website was introduced to the world.

And while perhaps not as exciting or immersive as some of the nearly 1.9 billion websites that exist today, it makes sense that the first web page launched on the good ol’ W3 was, well, instructions about how to use it.

The first website contained information about the World Wide Web Project. It launched at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, where it was created by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee. On it, people could find out how to create web pages and learn about hypertext (coded words or phrases that link to content).

Berners-Lee created the web for the same reason a lot of us visit websites today: to make life just a little bit easier. For him, the problem to be solved rested in computers themselves: there was no way to share information between different devices.

And so in 1989, Berners-Lee proposed the idea for an information management system to his managers at CERN. The system would use hypertext to connect documents on separate computers connected to the Internet.

At first, the managers’ response was something along the lines of cool, but no thanks. But when Berners-Lee returned with a new-and-improved proposal a year later, the computer scientist was granted permission to work on the project. By 1991, it was ready to launch. Berners-Lee had developed HTML, HTTP and URLs — the building blocks for creating websites — all on his NeXT computer designed by Steve Jobs.

And so, with the creation of a single web page, the World Wide Web was born. And it’s grown quite a bit since then. There were 10 websites by 1992, 3,000 websites by 1994 (after the W3 became public domain), and 2 million by the time the search engine Google made its debut in 1996.

It’s worth mentioning that the first website was also lost. Excited by progress and unable at the time to fathom the true scope of the web’s abilities, computer scientists didn’t archive many of the very first websites. A project to restore the world’s first web page was launched in 2013 by CERN.

But not to worry: It’s back now, even at its original URL, for you to explore.

Josie Fischels is an intern on NPR’s News Desk.

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Comments

    • piratecheese13
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Where did the first hyperlink link to?

    • alg2036
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    anybody else remember almost everyone writing out the whole thing including http:/? Or watching the end of a commercial to see if they had a website, trying to remember it all or write it down fast enough. pre-(familiar)search engines, before you could even pause the tv to get the website.

    • gobobro
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    30 years ago, I probably would have pretended to be wise, and stated cable television was my generation’s tech that would reshape the world…

    • Richard31328
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I was in college in the early 1990s and my school had two mainframes called Whale and Trout that were connected to the “information superhighway”. We had to schedule time to use them. The interface was, shall we say, rudimentary. Think of Matthew Broderick communicating with other computers in “Wargames”.

    • haulwhore
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    And it’s been down hill since

    • Au2288
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Great, I’m older than the internet, not something I wanted to acknowledge today.

    • LegenDairyPerson
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Gg. We’ve come so far, but unfortunately it’s like we’re taking steps backwards now.

    • kuwomi
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    i like to pretend the worlds first website was lemonparty.org

    • Xenc
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    ⚠️🚧 `UNDER CONSTRUCTION` 🚧⚠️

    • cowboybaked
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Cool. Happy birthday internet!

    • Rockfest2112
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I can remember in those early days you literally could surf most of the websites out there in a few hours. Didnt stay like that long, and when it was, you’d often loop back to that website.

    • ResponsibleContact39
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    When did the first cat picture get posted?

    • InTheArena813
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Anyone remember AOL on dial-up: Welcome… You’ve got… You’ve got… Goodbye.

    • KazooAtTheZoo
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    The internet peaked in 2006-2013.

    • Sranjie
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    the first website had a .ch domain…. hahaha Im Swiss and no one knows that 🙈😂

    • Ahelsinger
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I remember trying to surf the net back in like 1992. It was so tough

    • aja_ramirez
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I was 21 and in college but did not really start using the web until about 1996.

    • UGAllDay
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Sir Tim Berners Lee ftw!!! Founder of the WWW

    • WardenEdgewise
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I’ve always wondered what the internet (and world) would be like today if the internet had no anonymity. What if, in order to use the internet, you had to somehow be completely identifiable, as if you were standing on the street in public?
    Some websites are like that, where you are *actually* you, but most of the internet is anonymous, or there is never a guarantee that anyone is who they claim to be.

    • mitmenschen
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Just give me back the experience of visiting a website and NOT having to accept or decline cookies all the time!

    • sendokun
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    That was a simpler time.

    • eyeknowwhodidit
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I’m 1998 I learne how to turn down the volume on the modem. I must have shown 500 people over the next decade.

    In the phone/modem tab you simple turn the speaker volume down to 0. It is set on high as a default for some reason.

    I received thousands of thank you hugs from people especially the ones that like to log on at night and not wake up the house. I was a hero then. I peaked early. It’s been all downhill ever since.

    • BabySealOfDoom
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Oh the classic W3. Someone really thought that was going to be a cool nickname. Instead we got “the web” and no one knows what www means.

    • Opaque_Cypher
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Hypermedia indeed…

    • ZixfromthaStix
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    The inventor of the Internet regrets it.

    • toneboat
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    ctrl + z

    • Icommentwhenhigh
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Didn’t realize it was that new when I first started exploring in 1993. I loved the random shit you could collect. I made my first website a collection of jpegs from “The Crow” and images of nuclear blasts. Got an email from the computer science department that I had the busiest website in Dalhousie university that year.

    Kind of wierd to think for a moment I was right on the front of a wave that was getting real big, before it got real big. I’ve dabbled in webdesign over the years but it takes a special kind of approach to keep in front of such a massive technology, so I decided to go old school and work on aircraft instead.

    • Derreekk
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    “the managers response was something along the lines of “cool, but no thanks”.” To the initial presentation of the idea of the Internet.

    That gave me quite the chuckle. Oh had that manager known what he was actually being presented with… oh he would feel so dumb now.

    • j0n66
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Back in 93 or 94, my first Web experience was to (1) download photos of NHL players to print, (2) download Simpsons sound bites, and (3) download and print photos from playboy.com

    • qglrfcay
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    30 years ago, the world changed.

    • HeroDanTV
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Remember when hackers were represented by green Matrix scrolling text?

    • Belichick12
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Tomorrow we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first porn site

    • best_damn_milkshake
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Crazy it’s only been 30 years

    • FrenchLeague
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Lets please remember, the “internet” and mobile phones the app based world is really only little more than a decade old.
    And it can be considered one of the worst things to happen to civil society.

    “The changes that would propel the Internet into its place as a social system took place during a relatively short period of no more than five years, from around 2005 to 2010. They included:

    The call to “Web 2.0″ in 2004 (first suggested in 1999),
    Accelerating adoption and commoditization among households of, and familiarity with, the necessary hardware (such as computers).
    Accelerating storage technology and data access speeds – hard drives emerged, took over from far smaller, slower floppy discs, and grew from megabytes to gigabytes (and by around 2010, terabytes), RAM from hundreds of kilobytes to gigabytes as typical amounts on a system, and Ethernet, the enabling technology for TCP/IP, moved from common speeds of kilobits to tens of megabits per second, to gigabits per second.
    High speed Internet and wider coverage of data connections, at lower prices, allowing larger traffic rates, more reliable simpler traffic, and traffic from more locations,”

    • everyoneinside72
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I remember this! It seemed SO weird at the time… like why would we want to look up information on a computer when we could just go look in books or an encyclopedia? now its just the opposite.

    • filthadelphia13
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I tell my undergraduate students that I’m one day older than the first website. They’re like huh? Lol (I teach web design and development)

    • MintSkillz
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I remember when we found about the internet and my middle school buddy Jimmy Valero showed me porn for the first time.

    It was in the basement where his older brother had a computer that could connect.

    It was a video that took a long time to load. First time I learned about sex.

    • Tbone_Trapezius
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    There’s no place like 127.0.0.1.

    • virtuwilll
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    The world has progressed more in the past 30 years than the had in previous 300

    • Responsible-Hair9569
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I remembered that we had to type “www.” in URL and searching required specific word-to-word match to give a result. What a pain in @$$ it was…

    • virtualmang
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    And now 30 years later, the web follows me everywhere I go. It’s in my pocket, on my wrist, in my car, in my house, at work, and even at my grandmas house. My eyes are glued to the web for many hours per day. Pretty successful that little experiment was!

    • orangutanoz
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    And it seems like yesterday I was watching Movie Phone ads.

    • yehhhhs
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Random but has anyone seen anything about what time the website was launched? Like the time of day?

    • swanger4782
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    and now the internet is a beautiful utopia of disinformation, debauchery and petty message board drama

    • Ok_Astronomer_978
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    In some ways, we would be a better world without internet…..

    • DevvyHD
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    among us

    • YoMomsHubby
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    666

    • hamsterfolly
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Fuck you NPR, quit trying to make me feel old!

    • rob_maqer
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Now look at us

    • LeoTR99
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I’m kind of surprised it wasn’t porn

    • 1984JB
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    CERN?…

    • KlevenSting
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Really conflicted whether to vote up or down on this headline.

    • ITGeekBenB
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    August 7th, 1991?! I was about to start my 3rd grade year!

    • Hetzjagd1
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    More people need to realize mankind as a whole went backwards when this happened. Technology will never replace the human condition and the evolution of our brains.

    • scottmacs
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    The intern who wrote this story didn’t bother to do much research. “[By the end of 1990, Tim Berners-Lee had the first Web server and browser up and running at CERN, demonstrating his ideas. ](https://home.cern/science/computing/birth-web/short-history-web)“ August 6th, 1991 is just the day Tim Berners-Lee announced his project on Internet newsgroups.

    • TheScienceAdvocate
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I remember

    • Sufficient-Swim-9843
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    When floppy disks were indeed floppy.

    • putting-
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply
    • madmex61969
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I’m shocked it wasn’t porn

    • king_lifer
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    How far we have come..

    • Marty_McWeed
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Blockchain and smart contracts, NFTs, DeFI will now revolutionize. Same amount of people used the internet in 1998 as are owners of crypto currency’s at the moment. Be the next to beat the crowd.

    • Puzzleheaded_Basil13
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Paying respects to NeXTSTEP, NeXTcube and Steve Jobs and his team of engineers.

    [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WorldWideWeb](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WorldWideWeb)

    • NavyNukeMan
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Worldsfirstwebsite.com

    • hot_fried_donuts
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I remember in mid 90s seeing for the first time on tv a www. website address for some business on fence advertising at an AFL (Australian Rules Football) match at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) and thinking …”wow ..this website thing might be something” lol

    • tomski1981
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    after all this time we still didnt find a good way to shorten “www”… in english, having three W’s in a row (the longest letter to pronounce) has never felt very efficient

    • Vinyldoctor
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    And they still haven’t caught manbearpig

    • 1_am_not_a_b0t
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Thank you for visiting my OnlyWWW

    • Jrxbrg
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Way to go Al Gore.

    • chalksandcones
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Proud day for al gore

    • IncurableAdventurer
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    For what it is now, it’s not that long ago

    • systemfrown
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Sometimes I fire up Mosaic on FreeBSD just to see how it will react to modern web sites.

    • Deltahot
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Wake me up for the 30 year anniversary of Napster…

    • anightclubfordogs
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    It’s seriously insane to think about this. 30 years. A tiny blip in human civilization and an infinitely *tinier* blip in world history. Yet I don’t think many people today can really imagine a world without it anymore

    • ravinglunatic
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Tim Berners-Lee currently trying to stop Skynet from destroying humanity…

    • e_spider
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I actually remember Gopher which for a time was bigger, and it came before www/http/html. But they started charging licensing fees and it went away rather quickly after that. Imagine how different the world would be if another protocol like Gopher had won out instead of World Wide Web.

    • thalonelydonkeykong
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    Wow I’m 8 days older than websites

    • Human-Firefighter755
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    They had BBS (bulletin boards) and IRC (internet relay chat) since the late 80’s and Dial in mainframe timeshare computers allowed users to play single or multiuser games like Life, Advent, and Star Trek or to run spreadsheets, type documents, etc. This news story is about the first WWW / html based website, 1991. That was when the king of browsers was the Netscape Navigator that had sections for other site systems like Gopher, which is still available under the Veronica search engine, and ftp, which allowed file transfers with ftp sites listed under the Archie search engine.

    • Tabriz44
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    I still remember the day I first got internet, must have been around 1997 with AOL. It was amazing! There wasn’t much in the way of content compared to now but it was still amazing. You just mostly stayed on AOL but the cool kids used something called newsgroups. Still remember when I discovered this wonderful world if newsgroups, I would patiently wait a few mins for a nudie pic to load. My God, all this technology today was done in the last 25 years or so….crazy to think how far we’ve come . Still remember when I upgraded to a 56k modem and thought it can’t possibly ever get better than this right?

    • jakesteeley
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    The Tandy 1000 was a serious upgrade from that old TRS-80 clunker.

    • avid2474
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    What was the first website?

    • Fucklronhubbardclone
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

    And it’s been downhill ever since.

    • Victor
    • August 12, 2021
    Reply

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