CERN celebrates 20th anniversary of World Wide Web

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee (left) and early web pioneer Robert Cailliau stand on either side of the NeXT computer that acted as the word's first web server (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

Geneva, 13 March 2009. Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee returned to the birthplace of his invention today, 20 years after submitting his paper ‘Information Management: A Proposal’ to his boss Mike Sendall. By writing the words ‘Vague, but exciting’ on the document’s cover, and giving Berners-Lee the go-ahead to continue, Sendall was signing into existence the information revolution of our times: the World Wide Web. In September of the following year, Berners-Lee took delivery of a computer called a NeXT cube, and by December the Web was up and running, albeit between just a couple of computers at CERN1.

Today’s event takes a look back at some of the early history, and pre-history, of the World Wide Web at CERN, includes a keynote speech from Tim Berners-Lee, and concludes with a series of talks from some of today’s Web pioneers. The full event will be webcast at http://webcast.cern.ch, and relayed via  http://tf1.lci.fr/infos/endirect/0,,4301948,00-les-20-ans-du-web-edition-speciale-.html. Highlights will be available to broadcasters via a Eurovision worldfeed scheduled for 19:00CET (http://www.eurovision.net/net/content/worldfeeds.php).

“It’s a pleasure to be back at CERN today,” said Berners-Lee. “CERN has come a long way since 1989, and so has the Web, but its roots will always be here.”

The World Wide Web is undoubtedly the most well known spin-off from CERN, but it’s not the only one. Technologies developed at CERN have found applications in domains as varied as solar energy collection and medical imaging.

“When CERN scientists find a technological hurdle in the way of their ambitions, they have a tendency to solve it,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “I’m pleased to say that the spirit of innovation that allowed Tim Berners-Lee to invent the Web at CERN, and allowed CERN to nurture it, is alive and well today.”

Footnote(s)

1. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have Observer status.

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