The way we were -- CERN recreates the first website

You might think that complex experiments involving particle accelerators would be enough to keep the people at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) occupied. But of course in between all that nuclear stuff a CERN team led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee found time to create the first ever website.

This must have been a somewhat frustrating experience back in 1993 when hardly anyone had access to a browser -- rather like Bell inventing the telephone and not having anyone he could call. Now as we reach the 20th anniversary of the landmark event that gave birth to the Web, CERN has started a project to restore that first website.

You can browse the first site itself at http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html but don’t expect any impressive graphical content -- or indeed any graphics at all. Ultimately the project team hopes to restore the NeXT computer that hosted the site and run it on the original hardware, even using the same machine names and IP addresses. Thus preserving as many digital assets as possible from the first site.

The Web has become such an essential of our everyday lives in recent years that it’s hard to imagine its very beginning was such a short time ago. This project will help preserve those humble origins for future generations so that they’re able to see just how far we’ve come. As Dan Noyes, Web manager for CERN’s communication group says on his blog, "The fact that they called their technology the World Wide Web hints at the fact that they knew they had something special, something big".

Photo credit: amasterphotographer/Shutterstock

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