Nice idea, Bernie.
If you’ve ever pitched an idea to your supervisor only to receive little to no response – you’re not alone. Nobody at CERN paid attention to Tim Berners-Lee’s pet project either. He wasn’t looking to change the world. He was trying to help his colleagues share work. Here’s an interesting homage to Mr. Lee’s invention and the path he took that changed the world on this day in 1991.
The young British scientist took his invention public quietly with a brief message posted to a newsgroup. It was a message announcing a “WorldWideWeb” (WWW) project, including instructions on how to download the very first Web browser from the inaugural website.
He created a user-friendly computer language called Hypertext Markup Language, and assigned each destination to a specific name: a Universal Resource Locator. Combined with the server collaboration created by the Internet, Berners-Lee’s hypertext transfer protocol provided the structure needed for information to be shared world wide.
Traffic to info.cern.ch started at 10 hits a day. And it grew. After August 6, 1991, the world was never the same. The impact of the Internet, good and bad, has been felt in virtually every aspect of daily life. According to Time magazine, within five years, the number of Internet users ballooned from 600,000 to 40 million. Within ten years, Berners-Lee’s creation had become nearly as commonplace as indoor plumbing.
One of the more profound changes created by the WorldWideWeb has been the proliferation of distance education. The Web has made it possible for a number of people to finish high school and/or complete their degree program. According to a 2011 study by the National Center for Distance Education, in 2007–08, about 4.3 million undergraduate students, or 20 percent of all undergraduates, took at least one distance education course. About 0.8 million, or 4 percent of all undergraduates, took their entire program through distance education. For military service members and their families, distance education via the Web makes it possible for many to use their military benefits to achieve their educational goals.
So today, Tim Berners-Lee, we thank you for not giving up on your dream. Because of you, millions others don’t have to give up on theirs.