web anniversary

The World Wide Web has transformed so much of our modern-day life. It’s revolutionised the way we do business, how we digest information and how we interact with friends and family. It’s hard to imagine life without it.

When Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau invented the World Wide Web in 1989, they changed the world forever. It was officially launched 30 years ago in March 1989. This milestone anniversary has been celebrated throughout the world this year.

6th August 1991 is widely regarded as the official date the first website was published to the Internet and many are further celebrating the World Wide Web this month to mark the momentous occasion. Let’s take a look back over the years to see how the web has evolved.

In the beginning

While the World Wide Web is often confused with the Internet, they are not the same things. The Web delivers different pages over the Internet, in the same way as your email uses the Internet to deliver messages between people.

The World Wide Web was initially developed as a side-project by CERN contractor Tim Berners-Lee, as a way for staff to interact with others using hypertext.

In 1989, CERN was the largest Internet node in Europe, and Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to merge hypertext with the Internet.

A short while later, the first web browser was released for multiple computer platforms. This allowed people to publish content on one machine, store the resulting hypertext page on a web server, which could then be viewed by other users.

From there, the concept took on a life of its own. Today, we thank Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau for laying the foundations of the World Wide Web.

The 1990’s

As the first web page went live on August 6, 1991, it was dedicated to information on the World Wide Web project and was built by Tim Berners-Lee. It ran on a NeXT computer at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN.

Here's what it looked like in 1992. No screenshots were taken of the site before then.

web wide web 1990

The ability to add images and sounds came along with the advent of the graphics-enabled web browsers of the mid-90’s, and the number of web pages that existed online increased exponentially every month. Since then, we’ve never looked back and there are now millions of websites online. The mid-to-late 90’s witnessed some huge technological advances that paved the way for innovation.

Some of today’s most popular websites were created during this period: Yahoo.com and Microsoft.com (1994), MSN.com, eBay.com, Amazon.com and CNN.com (1995). Apple.com and Adobe.com (1996). BBC.co.uk (1997).

In 1996, Michael Jordan teamed up with the Looney Tunes for the big screen hit Space Jam. The website is still online today and was highly regarded as one of the most visually advanced websites at the time. Take a look at the clipart style graphics and choice of background, it is an indication of how far forward web design has shifted since the mid-90’s.

Space Jam Website

Space Jam Website - spacejam.com

The late nineties saw Google officially launch in 1998. Here is what Google looked like in the early days.

Google 1998

2000's

With the popularity of the Internet soaring by the early 2000’s, more people took to the net for information as Wikipedia.org was launched in 2001. Then came an influx of social media sites taking over the Internet. First to launch was MySpace.com in 2003 and then Linkedin.com and Facebook.com followed shortly after.

Social Media Web 2003

Flickr.com launched in 2004 as a dedicated image hosting service. YouTube.com gave users the opportunity to upload, view, rate and share video content in 2005.

Social Media Web 2003

WordPress.com was originally introduced in 2005 as a blogging site and today has become the most popular open-source content management system for website design and development.

When Twitter.com became available in 2006, it offered something different. The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity with a more simplified user experience than Facebook and LinkedIn, taking social networking to another level.

Social Media Web 2003

2010-Present

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram rapidly gained popularity, with one million registered users in two months, 10 million in a year, and currently 1 billion in 2019. Today, it is the third most visited social networking site behind Twitter and Facebook but with the biggest rise in visitors since 2015.

Google remains the number 1 search engine and the most visited website on the internet, followed closely by YouTube and the Chinese search engine Baidu.com.

Taobao is the world's largest e-commerce website and the seventh most visited. With over 1 billion product listings as of 2016, the combined transaction volume of Taobao Marketplace reached 3 trillion yuan in 2017, more than that of all US retailers and e-commerce sites combined.

Taobao

Apple continues to innovate a great visual and user experience, this year they launched new product landing pages to promote the iPhoneXS.

Apple iphoneXS

Toggl also impressed us with some quirky animations.

Toggl

What's next?

The last 30 years have seen the World Wide Web develop at an astounding pace with leading online brands driving innovation. Who knows where further advances in technology and design will take us 30 years from now?

Earlier in the year, in a two-part blog series, we looked at current web trends in ‘Part 1 What's Hot in Web Design’ and where we are heading in ‘Part 2 The Future of Website Development’

Get in touch with the team if you would like to discuss how to optimise your company's web presence