WorldWideWeb: Mother of all Browsers Available Again

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CERN offers an emulation of the very first browser to try: WorldWideWeb.

You want to know what it was like to surf in the primeval times of the internet? Then you should look at the browser WorldWideWeb , which CERN has now revived in the form of a browser emulation. At the time WorldWideWeb was the first application that could be surfed on the internet. The application was developed by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) for NeXT computers. For the 30th birthday of WorldWideWeb, the younger generation now has the opportunity to take a look at the application.

The original faithful replica of WorldWideWeb has been designed to run within any modern browser. And right away – if you start WorldWideWeb and wonder how to enter and access a URL: In the left-hand side menu, click on “Document” and then on “Open from full document reference”. Then enter eg “https://theclickinfo.com” and then click on “ok”. Yes – not everything was better in the past.

But why so complicated? To explain that, we have to rewind the time a bit: 

The World Wide Web, as we know it today, goes back to a proposal from Tim Berners-Lee in March 1989, who was working at CERN. On November 12, 1990 Tim Berners-Lee published a more precise proposal for the so-called “HyperText Project”. During this time, Berners-Lee also developed the very first browser on his NeXT computer and gave it the name “WorldWideWeb”. With the application, the new network should be used and tested.

This also explains many elements of the interface of “WorldWideWeb”. One notices that the application is more likely to work on a local device with local files thought. In addition, Berners-Lee also designed the first hypertext server software and named it “httpd”. This server ran in the background and it could be accessed via the application “WorldWideWeb”.

In December 1990, the first domain running on a server was called “WorldWideWeb”. Tim Berners-Lee was able to call his server in the browser via the URL info.cern.ch. A replica of this first website can be found here. 

A short time later, Berners-Lee renamed the application “WorldWideWeb” to Nexus. This should make the name of the browser more distinct from the actual World Wide Web. 

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