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|Developer(s)||Tim Berners-Lee for CERN|
|Initial release||February 26, 1991|
WorldWideWeb was the world's first web browser and WYSIWYG HTML editor. It was introduced on February 26, 1991, by British scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and ran on the NeXTSTEP platform. It was later renamed Nexus to avoid confusion with the World Wide Web.
WorldWideWeb (WWW) was the first program which used not only the common File Transfer Protocol but also the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, invented by Berners-Lee in 1989. At the time it was written, WorldWideWeb was the only way to view the Web.
The source code was released into the public domain in 1993. Some of the code still resides on Berners-Lee's NeXTcube in the CERN museum and has not been recovered due to the computer's status as a historical artifact.
Berners-Lee wrote WorldWideWeb on a NeXT Computer during the second half of 1990, while working for CERN. The first successful build was completed on December 25, 1990, and successive builds circulated among Berners-Lee's colleagues at CERN before being released to the public, by way of Internet newsgroups, in August 1991. By this time, several others, including Bernd Pollermann, Robert Cailliau, Jean-François Groff, and graduate student Nicola Pellow – who wrote the line-mode browser – were involved in the project.
A number of early browsers appeared, notably ViolaWWW. They were all eclipsed by Mosaic in terms of popularity, which by 1993, had replaced the WorldWideWeb program. Those involved in its creation had moved on to other tasks, such as defining standards and guidelines for the further development of the World Wide Web—e.g. HTML, various communication protocols, and so on.
On April 30, 1993, the CERN directorate released the source code of WorldWideWeb into the public domain, making it free software. Several versions of the software are still available to download from evolt.org's browser archive. Berners-Lee initially considered releasing it under the GNU General Public License, but eventually opted for public domain to maximize corporate support.
WorldWideWeb was capable of displaying basic style sheets, downloading and opening any file type supported by the NeXT system (which included PostScript, movies, sounds, and so on), browsing newsgroups, and spellchecking. At first, images were displayed in separate windows, until NeXTSTEP's Text class supported Image objects.
The browser was also an editor. It allowed the simultaneous editing and linking of many pages in different windows. The functions "Mark Selection", which created an anchor, and "Link to Marked", which made the selected text an anchor linking to the last marked anchor, allowed the creation of links. Editing pages remotely was not yet possible, as the HTTP PUT method had not yet been implemented. Files would be edited in a local file system which was in turn served onto the web by an HTTP server.
WorldWideWeb's navigation panel contained Next and Previous buttons that would automatically navigate to the next or previous link on the last page visited, similar to Opera's Rewind and Fast Forward buttons; i.e., if one navigated to a page from a table of links, the Previous button would cause the browser to load the previous page linked in the table. This was useful for web pages which contained lists of links. Many still do, but the user interface link-chaining was not adopted by other browser writers, and it disappeared until it was later picked up by later Web browsers. An equivalent functionality is nowadays provided by connecting webpages with explicit navigation buttons repeated on each webpage among those links, or with typed links in the headers of the page. This places more of a burden on web site designers and developers, but allows them to control the presentation of the navigation links.
- Tim Berners-Lee: WorldWideWeb
- A Little History of the World Wide Web
- Berners-Lee's blog
- Weaving the Web (ISBN 0-06-251587-X), Berners-Lee's book about the conception of the Web
- Nexus binaries and source
- CERN, Where the Web Was "WWW" born
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