Back by popular demand
April 30, 2013 10:14 AM   Subscribe

The world first web page has been put back online by the folks at CERN, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web. Originally posted on April 30, 1993. Cern's announcement blog post yesterday.

Note that the page re-published today was actually first built in 1992. CERN says they are looking for potentially even older versions.
posted by beagle (83 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
I thought the first web page had something to do with cats and scanners. Anyway, for us older folks, it brings to mind the phrase “It was 20 years ago today...”
posted by LeLiLo at 10:20 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks like the poor NeXTCube serving the page is starting to melt...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:20 AM on April 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


Awesome. Nothing like simple HTML.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:22 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks Tim!
posted by Artw at 10:23 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.
posted by notyou at 10:23 AM on April 30, 2013


It's strange to think that the web was only 6 years old when MeFi started. That seems like ages ago, now.
posted by TedW at 10:23 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is there a Kevin Bacon style game where you take any page and attempt to link back to this one is as few jumps as possible?
posted by bondcliff at 10:25 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Based on the slowness with which this page responds, they must be using the same webserver, too.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:27 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow, even back then pages loaded too slowly.
posted by alms at 10:27 AM on April 30, 2013


Which phrase I googled to verify I had right. There's some disagreement as to the origin, so I went with the advice here and chose the 19th Century American version. Had this been 1992, I would have modemed the Cal State LA modem, telnetted to my Vax account at Cal State Long Beach, gophered somewhere (U of Minnesota?) for an index of resources, found an etymology at some other University, then telnetted to that machine. It's a lot easier this way.
posted by notyou at 10:28 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


An error occurred while handling your request

While trying to retrieve the URL: http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html
Error message: Connection timed out

Yes, that seems about right.
posted by Shepherd at 10:29 AM on April 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


I remember the USENET announcement that some crazy Swiss scientists were doing some sort of hypertext thingy that might one day actually challenge Gopher...
posted by jim in austin at 10:30 AM on April 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


Best viewed on a gray background.
posted by monospace at 10:38 AM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


Best viewed with MOSAIC
posted by hal9k at 10:39 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


The server response time is a nice touch... I really feel like I'm on a dial up connection again too.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 10:40 AM on April 30, 2013


The professional grey backgrounds.

I recall opening my first page which could easily have been the first page. That I forget.
20 years?
posted by de at 10:41 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


No mobile version? Man.
posted by grubi at 10:43 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


This post instantly made me wonder how long it took before the first animated construction worker gif was made. And whaddya know, MetaFilter had the answer.
posted by spilon at 10:45 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Best viewed on a green monochrome phosphor monitor, one that's only about 5 years out of date.
posted by item at 10:47 AM on April 30, 2013


n00bs
posted by Flashman at 10:47 AM on April 30, 2013


I don't think MeFi could have happened without the web, and specifically without the web being free in the way that it was then. If CERN had thought to license the technology, it would have died on the vine.

On preview: 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon's DNS server?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:49 AM on April 30, 2013


"To find out about WWW:

telnet info.cern.ch [a command you would type into your network-enabled computer]

This will give you the very basic line-mode interface. Don't be disappointed: use it to find out how to install it or more advanced graphical interface browsers on your local system."

Fuck the web page. I want to telnet to info.cern.ch. Anyone know what was actually running on there ?
posted by Ad hominem at 10:52 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Looks like their announcement has led to the site being hammered. I can't get the page to load at all ...
posted by freecellwizard at 10:54 AM on April 30, 2013


Anyone know what was actually running on there ?

From textfiles.
posted by smackfu at 10:54 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think their stylesheet is broken.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:54 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Background on the NEXTID.
posted by swift at 10:54 AM on April 30, 2013


This brings back memories of watching the stars fall from the sky as you waited in vain for a Geocities page to load.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:55 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Nice site -- I especially like the distraction-free layout. But I don't see how they're going to monetize it.
posted by PlusDistance at 11:03 AM on April 30, 2013


I swear this is the internet version of when I found out that the baby on the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind album was old enough to drink.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:04 AM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


How does www keep track of the available servers?

... "By the way, it would be easy in principle for a third party to run over these trees and make indexes of what they find. Its just that noone has done it as far as I know because there isn't yet an indexer which runs over the web directly."
posted by togdon at 11:04 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


For the sake of historical completeness and accuracy, previously Metafilter observed the 10th anniversary of the Web on May 17, 2001, an obvious discrepancy. And it seems that on that page, I mentioned an even older page, dated April 21, 1991. Here's the W3C Chronology page.

To explain the two different anniversary dates, from that Chronology page, under 1993:
April 30: Date on the declaration by CERN's directors that WWW technology would be freely usable by anyone, with no fees being payable to CERN. A milestone document.
Earlier, in 1991:
17 May: Presentation to "C5" Committee. General release of WWW on central CERN machines.
posted by beagle at 11:05 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was a developer of interactive CDs in 1994, when I saw my first Web page. It was the Louvre museum. Looking at the tiny pictures and the dull black and blue on gray text, I was pretty certain it was no competition.

I don't think anybody makes interactive CDs anymore.
posted by monospace at 11:05 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


UNIX(r) System V Release 4.0 (www0)


Welcome to the World-Wide Web
THE WORLD-WIDE WEB


WWW LineMode Browser version 2.14 (WWWLib 2.16pre2) running on SVR4.

I appreciate the fact that the browser was already up to 2.14.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:06 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


My university course was basically a set up for making interactive CDs. Towards the end there was a brief module on HTML.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fucking blink tag man...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:11 AM on April 30, 2013


A cinch for Cool Site Of The Day (if it had existed).
posted by octobersurprise at 11:12 AM on April 30, 2013


Yahoo hadn't even been hand maintained...
posted by Artw at 11:14 AM on April 30, 2013


I love looking at the source code. Everything is in capitals, all the <a> tags has a numerical name attribute, there's no html tags, the <head> tag is called HEADER and there's an unclosed NEXTID tag! It's totally awesome!
posted by gkhan at 11:15 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


My brain can't wrap itself around the idea that the internet could be only 20 years old. I swear it is more central to the way we live than electricity or indoor plumbing.
posted by gerstle at 11:18 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


My brain can't wrap itself around the idea that the internet could be only 20 years old.

Fortunately for your brain the Internet is almost twice that age, depending how measured.
posted by stbalbach at 11:26 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Best viewed on a green monochrome phosphor monitor, one that's only about 5 years out of date.

Ah, yes, trying to surf free-net at the library through a matrix of card catalogue screenburn. Memories.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:26 AM on April 30, 2013


Back in the late 90's I used to find it hilarious when I'd run across an employment ad that asked for "10 years of HTML experience." I guess they really really wanted Tim Berners-Lee to come work for them.
posted by gamera at 11:29 AM on April 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


This had me feeling nostalgic, so I checked to see if my Tripod page is still there. It is, and it's hideous.
posted by codacorolla at 11:31 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


internet != www
posted by j_curiouser at 11:31 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do miss that lovely, default grey background. Screenshots of Mosaic/early Netscape browsers still fill me with a sense of wonder and excitement at the potential of it all. I'd used local dial-in BBSes, e-mail and usenet, and in the late 80's had been on Q-Link but the more fluid and interconnected nature of the web was different.

I was pretty sure it was going to be big. There was no curriculum at my school; as others have mentioned it was still all about the interactive CD multimedia. But the school's library had a surprisingly sophisticated web site, and on it was a concise HTML tutorial... and to my surprise, it was ridiculously easy.

I managed to jump in at exactly the right moment, and with a handful of tags and a bit of Photoshop 3 know-how I eventually worked my way into an honest to goodness web design job. When I got tired of maintaining HTML by hand I started tinkering with PERL and PHP, and eventually worked my way into an honest to goodness web programming job... and now that I realize that all started almost 20 years ago, I am feeling very, very old.
posted by usonian at 11:32 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fortunately for your brain the Internet is almost twice that age, depending how measured.

Yes, sorry. Wrong way to phrase that. Popular use of the Internet.
posted by gerstle at 11:37 AM on April 30, 2013


I still remember the day when my middle school librarian showed me that there was a 'g' command in lynx that let you browse to a somewhere other than the default UMassK12 homepage....

I also remember the day I got my UmassK12 account. Now I didn't have to ask my dad to use his dialup shell at world.std.com. I just had to ask if I could use the telephone line....
posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:42 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember someone telling me about PPP and I told them it would never work because dialup was too slow. Then I told them check out x.25 cuz the internet sucked, all you had was unix after unix. There was no vms, primos, or any of the one off shit you had on x.25.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:48 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


God, I'm going to run out of favorites if this keeps up. I miss those old days, I really do.

Mozilla gets its name from the prototype for Netscape Navigator, and was originally a corruption/pun off of Mosaic, the firs graphical web browser. All versions of Navigator and Mozilla/Firefox, even the current (20.0.1), have an easter egg if you enter about:mozilla in the address bar, by this point one of the most venerable eggs in all of software.
posted by JHarris at 11:53 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Probably way after 1993, I remember being on the subway looking at the ads, when I started to see this cryptic www.whatever.com at the bottom of many ads. I had no idea what it was at the time.

For Christmas, I had received an "Internet How To" book - a couple of hundred pages on how to connect and browse the Web. Remember when one had to install an application and then contact one's ISP for the specific configuration settings to make? I remember the shock at not having to do that anymore after I finally upgraded from dial up to high-speed . It felt so wrong...

I'm surprised that Google hasn't done anything to commemorate this.
posted by bitteroldman at 11:59 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


so responsive
posted by brundlefly at 12:02 PM on April 30, 2013




It just occurred to me that Tim Berners-Lee deserves a tranditional geek three letter appellation instead of being knows as TimBL. In recognistion of his many accomplishments he will be joining the ranks of RMS,ESR,NDT,LBT,JWZ and many others and shall now be known as TBL.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:15 PM on April 30, 2013


Pppphh!~

Doesn't even validate.
posted by mazola at 12:18 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


proposed new tag: IMG
Marc Andreessen (marca@ncsa.uiuc.edu)
Thu, 25 Feb 93 21:09:02 -0800

I'd like to propose a new, optional HTML tag: IMG

An example is:

<IMG SRC="file://foobar.com/foo/bar/blargh.xbm">

(There is no closing tag; this is just a standalone tag.)
posted by Herodios at 12:23 PM on April 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't think anybody makes interactive CDs anymore.

I'm waiting for the indie kids to take these up again, just as they have cassettes.
posted by mykescipark at 12:29 PM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's strange to think that the web was only 6 years old when MeFi started. That seems like ages ago, now.

Wasn't that like 578 Internet Eras or whatever they were calling them back then? Everything had a shelf life of 18mos or less...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:41 PM on April 30, 2013


RonButNotStupid: "I still remember the day when my middle school librarian showed me that there was a 'g' command in lynx that let you browse to a somewhere other than the default UMassK12 homepage....

I also remember the day I got my UmassK12 account. Now I didn't have to ask my dad to use his dialup shell at world.std.com. I just had to ask if I could use the telephone line....
"

There were a lot of telnet-accessible lynx browsers out there. A local university ran one that I often used, but it had 'g' disabled, so it was of limited usefulness. Thankfully, free.org gave away free shell accounts. Which had Lynx. And turned out to be a hotbed of file sharing on IRC. ;)
posted by wierdo at 12:46 PM on April 30, 2013


I don't think anybody makes interactive CDs anymore.

I got a job in 2005 at a company that produced software for building interactive CDs. Once upon a time, that company had had a comfortable market share as Macromedia's #1 competitor. It marketed itself as a sweet-spot -- professional enough to build something that looked really nice, but with a shorter learning curve. And for a certain window of time, that was the perfect spot to be in. Lots of photographers and the like used our software to make little CDs for clients. Of course, you could also distribute your productions over the Internet, but we never made the step to being able to launch it in-browser.

When I came on, the pie that we shared with Macromedia and others had gotten small. My job was to keep our dwindling customer base happy while my boss sought out consulting gigs to keep the company afloat. Eventually he realized that it no longer made sense to have me onboard. He still runs a consulting business, but he quietly removed any mention of the software from his website about a year ago.

Here's the funny thing. There are still message boards for users of that software, and they're still full of people asking what happened and when the new version with XYZ features is coming out. These technologies have bafflingly long tails sometimes, and it's always a little sad when they get abandoned.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:50 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


No frames? No blink? No quintuply-nested tables driving layout? Hardly a harbinger of what was to come.
posted by Mayor West at 1:00 PM on April 30, 2013


20 years? Wow! What happened? You blink and the world changes around you...

I still remember the first browser game I played — some sort of grid-based digging game with a weird monster-looking protagonist. Last I checked a few years ago, it was still up, but I can't remember the name. Anyone know what I'm talking about?
posted by archagon at 1:07 PM on April 30, 2013


CNN has a short article about this that also has a photo gallery of how various sites looked back in the day. The 1998 BBC one actually looks pretty good for the time. And Ask Jeeves ... how could I have forgotten? Oh I see, that turned into ask.com. But wait!! In the UK it's still Ask Jeeves!
posted by freecellwizard at 1:42 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was starting to feel old when the web started. Oh God I am so old.
posted by Decani at 1:52 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, Altavista, I do miss your boolean operators.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:55 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Funny thing... I watched the x-files last night and thought of the internet and how I thought it would change the world. Fucking Corporations... trust no one...
posted by mrgroweler at 2:04 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


The 1998 BBC one actually looks pretty good for the time.

It's a bit narrow in reality though. Whoever did those screenshots should have used 1024x768 to make them more like they really were.
posted by smackfu at 2:05 PM on April 30, 2013


I just installed lynx just to open this. It looks pretty good in lynx.

I wonder how hard it would be to compile mosaic on an amd64 machine?
posted by double block and bleed at 2:08 PM on April 30, 2013


I wonder how hard it would be to compile mosaic on an amd64 machine?

Apparently someone's already done the legwork.
posted by t3h933k at 2:17 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Looks like the poor NeXTCube serving the page is starting to melt...

Bad news -- they don't melt, so much as immolate [background].
posted by dhartung at 2:56 PM on April 30, 2013




In the UK it's still Ask Jeeves!

I expect Ask Bertie wouldn't be nearly as informative (although quite entertaining).
posted by JHarris at 3:12 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just out of dumb curiosity, but how does the first web page have links? I mean, if it was the first, what exactly was it linking to?
posted by Blue_Villain at 3:20 PM on April 30, 2013


Wait, 1993 was 20 years ago?
posted by ersatz at 3:34 PM on April 30, 2013


What is the difference between the WEB and the INTERNET? He made the web 20 years ago, but the internet had been around for longer. I don't understand.
posted by joelf at 3:35 PM on April 30, 2013


joelf: What is the difference between the WEB and the INTERNET?

History of the Internet

History of the World Wide Web

tl;dr: the WWW is just one part of the Internet.
posted by tzikeh at 3:51 PM on April 30, 2013


The internet is a network, the Web is a service offered over the network.
posted by JHarris at 4:02 PM on April 30, 2013


I can remember seeing this page in 1993, and it was so completely exciting. I had read about it and then went in search. I'd been hired to build gophers that summer, but even before I started doing that, I was playing around with web pages (which honestly made gophers seem super-lame). I ended up building both gophers and web pages, and then would come home and experiment on my own.

I was so not a self-promoter, so the first time I saw one of my pages on a list of resources or - weirder still - on Justin, it was totally surreal and weird.

Of course, in those days, I was also stupid enough to put my email on my webpages, a decision that has haunted my spam folder for decades. DECADES. gack.

When I got back to my college that fall, no one knew what I was talking about. I finally found a copy of Mosaic in an obscure folder on an obscure server in one particular lab, and then dragged everyone I thought would be interested to see how cool it was. Mostly, people tolerated me.
posted by julen at 4:20 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why CERN took down info.cern.ch in the first place. It was left up for years beyond the point at which it was only a historical artifact, and then they removed it. Glad it's back, though. I have a lot of fond memories of telnetting to info.cern.ch and using the line-mode browser.
posted by grouse at 6:17 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Where are they now? (most of the personal pages have maintained the original design æsthetic/ascetic):
Eelco van Asperen.
Carl Barker ?
Tim Berners-Lee.
Robert Cailliau.
Dan Connolly.
Peter Dobberstein ?
"Erwise" team [via]
Alain Favre.
David Foster.
Jean-François Groff - vizta [brokenlink].
Tony Johnson.
Paul Kunz.
Willem van Leeuwen.
Nicola Pellow ?
Bernd Pollermann ?
Arthur Secret.
Jonthan Streets [sic] ?
Pei Wei - access-us-inc.com [brokenlink].
Bebo White.
James Whitescarver [retired].
posted by unliteral at 6:55 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


proposed new tag: IMG
Marc Andreessen (marca@ncsa.uiuc.edu)
Thu, 25 Feb 93 21:09:02 -0800


The discussion here is pretty fascinating. Andreseen asks for input and then goes ahead and disregards all the concerns and implements his original proposal verbatim. Of course, when looking at some of the proposed alternatives, one is tempted to say he was justified in doing so. Berners-Lee's idea of using entities is particularly gross.
posted by kjh at 7:52 PM on April 30, 2013


This is so fun to see.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:20 PM on April 30, 2013


Lynx stylesheet. You're welcome.
posted by wobh at 10:41 PM on April 30, 2013


Andreseen asks for input and then goes ahead and disregards all the concerns and implements his original proposal verbatim

Just be glad we didn't end up with the generic terrible "why should images be a special case" people's solutions.
posted by smackfu at 6:28 AM on May 1, 2013


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