World's first website debuted 30 years ago this month

Have you ever wondered what the first public website looked like?

There are billions of them today, but the first ever was put online 30 years ago this month by a scientist named Tim Berners-Lee, who invited everyone to take part is his "World Wide Web" project.

Berners-Lee was a software developer at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and he was frustrated with the clumsy way scientists at the organization shared research. So in late 1990 and early 1991 he began developing a system using hypertext that would allow computers of different kinds to easily share information over a connected network.

Finally, in August 1991, he issued an invitation for all scientists to participate: “The WWW project was started to allow high-energy physicists to share data, news, and documentation," he wrote. "We are very interested in spreading the web to other areas, and having gateway servers for other data. Collaborators welcome!”

Just like today, people followed hyperlinks by clicking them. Back then, though, users could edit the pages as well as view them. Since that eventually led to the World WILD Web, the need arose to make websites mostly a read-only medium.

Berners-Lee's website was pretty boring, compared to today's colorful, info-packed and design-focused sites. Here's what it looked like:

Eventually, he developed a "fancy" browser-editor - the mostly gray precursor to today's flashy Chrome and Firefox:

The first web browser could edit pages as well as display them.Photo: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

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