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The Computer Corner

COMPUTERS

By Charles Miller

As far as I know, there are no big parades scheduled, and I have not seen or heard any fireworks…at least not any more than normal for México. Yet, for some people there is an important anniversary being celebrated now: this month, the World Wide Web turns thirty.

I suppose the lack of any big festivities is in keeping with the quiet way the web gradually came into existence.

In 1989, the Internet already existed and was growing exponentially, albeit in a way that was almost unknown to the general public. Cliques of academics and researchers were among the only users of the Internet then, though anyone with a master’s degree in computer science with a minor in electrical engineering could usually muster the skills necessary to use it.

Personal computers also already existed in 1989. In the 1980s, the PC had become an indispensable business tool and was starting to penetrate the home market. Black-and-white monitors were being replaced with color as the price came down to less than US$2,000! The mouse was an innovation that reduced the amount of typing necessary, and the modem provided a way to connect one computer to another over telephone lines. The stage was set for an invention to bring all these elements together.

While working for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the English scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the World Wide Web in March 1989 for his writing of a paper entitled “Information Management: A Proposal.” Berners-Lee’s breakthrough was to propose marrying some existing technologies to the Internet to make it simpler to access information already online. He explains that he had repeatedly suggested how to do this, but when no one else joined in, he finally decided to do the project himself.

Sir Tim wrote the first web browser computer program in 1990. That software made it easier to access Internet-connected servers using a Graphical User Interface and by pointing and clicking a mouse rather than having to type long addresses on the keyboard. That first web browser program was named “WorldWideWeb,” later renamed Nexus, and it is the ancestor of all the modern web browsers like Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Safari.

The WorldWideWeb program was shared with other research institutions the following year. But it was when the browser was made available to the general public in August 1991 that things started to happen: people in charge of Internet-connected servers started making them easier for the WorldWideWeb program to access. That created the World Wide Web entity that ushered in the Information Age and the billions of people in every corner of our planet who now use the Internet every day.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or by email at FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com

 

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