The Web Is 20 Years Old Today

It was twenty years ago today/ Tim Berners-Lee taught the world to play/ Although 20 years ago he would have sworn/ That there wouldn’t have been so much porn. That’s right – the world’s first website, a placeholder page written by Sir Berners-Lee way back on August 6, 1991 in the then-nascent Hypertext Mark-Up Language, is celebrating its 20th birthday today. And, on this important anniversary, we ask what hath the web wrought?

In the past two decades we’ve been given ecommerce and spam, we’ve torn down the music, news, and publishing industries, and we’ve LOLed at more CATS than we can count. We’ve seen empires rise and fall, the dissolution of the line between public and private, and the end of enforceable copyright. We’ve seen new modes of communication drive out unwanted regimes at home and abroad and we’ve heard the endless howl of a million voices calling out at once, most of them in comments on this site.

We’ve also seen lots of the aforementioned porn.

The original (can there be an original?) page is mirrored here and it’s a fascinating look at the seed crystal that catalyzed change to the world as we knew it in those heady pre-Internet days. Also porn.

Happy birthday, Internet Web. Here’s to another 20 happy, healthy years.

UPDATE – You guys win. Mea culpa.