The web turns 20 today

Sir Tim Berners-Lee came up with the concept of the World Wide Web 20 years ago today. He has returned to CERN in Switzerland where it all began for a speech and celebrations and a demonstration of the original browser.

CNET  takes up the story: back then, Berners-Lee was a software consultant working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva.

On March 13 of that year, he submitted a plan to management on how to better monitor the flow of research at the labs. People were coming and going at such a clip that an increasingly frustrated Berners-Lee complained that CERN was losing track of valuable project information because of the rapid turnover of personnel. It did not help matters that the place was chockablock with incompatible computers people brought with them to the office.

He wrote,'When two years is a typical length of stay, information is constantly being lost. The introduction of the new people demands a fair amount of their time and that of others before they have any idea of what goes on. The technical details of past projects are sometimes lost forever, or only recovered after a detective investigation in an emergency. Often, the information has been recorded, it just cannot be found.'

It Berners-Lee another two years before he could demosntrate plan, and he still had to wait until the mid 1990s for the Netscape browser - developed by Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen - brought the web to the mainstream. No-one could have foreseen at that point just what a revolution - for once used correctly - was coming our way.