Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Brief History of Time...err, I mean the World Wide Web

I met a former student of mine two weeks ago. During our small chat we talked about what it was like back when I was in college…well, that is almost two decades ago. The most significant thing I remember back then was we actually use the university library to research and do our studies…the internet, at least in the Philippines—is still in its infancy.

I actually first encountered the use of the world wide web back in 1994, when the web browser being used is Mosaic. The web then was mostly text based, few graphics and most of them are low resolutions if any. Connection speed was predominantly done using modem which means turtle slow connections. Multimedia and video streaming was unheard of.

The world wide web was created by sometime in the early 1990s by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau as an academic project to aid their physics research at CERN. Although during that time the internet already existed, the use of formatted text and hyperlinks on Web Pages made it more accessible and user friendly.

The Web was made more accessible to the public when the NSCA Mosaic hit the scene. It was created by Marc Andresssen who later founded Netscape Communications. Netscape then released Netscape Navigator and together with Microsoft Internet Explorer comprised one of the notable competition the software world has ever seen.

As it is the World Wide Web is a collection of web documents connected by what is called as hyperlinks. These documents are written in a special language called HTML (or Hyper Text Markup Language). However, as applications being used to share information in the internet becomes more complex, more and more publishing technologies becomes available: CSS, DHTML, JavaScript, XML, etc. These technologies enables web developers to create rich web documents and pages that enhance the surfing experience of users.

Today there are billions of pages comprising millions of websites available in the World Wide Web, and these numbers are still expected to increase every year--How's that for a science project?