August 3rd is World Wide Web Day, here are 10 interesting facts to celebrate the WWW in its 31st year!
1) Sir Tim Berners-Lee devised the system and built the first web-browser while working at the pan-European CERN particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Sir Tim – then just plain Tim – had become frustrated at scientists’ inability to easily access information stored on the different computers in the complex. Sir Tim never patented his invention.
2) Sir Tim worked on the project – building on a database and storage system he and others had designed in the 1980s – using a NeXt workstation computer. The NeXt machine was considered state-of-the-art at the time. It was built in California, cost the equivalent of £11,000 and looked similar to many of today’s PCs. It came with just 8MB of memory, which could be expanded to 64MB.
3) The first website was published by Sir Tim on 20th December 1990. It was not a leisure read, but merely was a technical description of the system.
4) The WWW made its first steps to truly being worldwide in 1991, when the first non-European server opened in Palo Alto, California. Palo Alto is now home to tech giants like Google, Facebook, Apple and Logitech.
5) Early web pages were unable to handle complex graphics until 1993, when a browser called Mosaic was developed by Marc Andreesen at the University of Illinois. At this stage, experts agree the web started to overtake and make obsolete competing information exchange systems.
6) From that first page in 1990, it is estimated that there were 1.74bn different websites at the start of 2020. The indexed part of the World Wide web contains at least 5.6bn pages.
7) The growth of the web has fuelled the growth of server farms and there are now nearly 9m of them. The largest concentration is outside Washington DC in Loudon County, Virginia. An estimated 70% of the world’s web traffic flows through them, largely as they host Amazon cloud services as well as other US tech giants’ operations.
8) By the next decade, it is predicted the web will require 50 times more data storage space. The electricity demands of the web are already more than that of a country the size of Iran. Some predictions foresee that eventually one-fifth of all global energy demands will be to power ICT.
9) In Mandarin Chinese, the World Wide Web is called Wan Wei Wang – which means “myriad dimensional web”. Not a bad description!
10) Sir Tim’s decision not to patent his invention must rank as one of the greatest acts of philanthropy in history. In 2019, websites generated $3.6tn in e-commerce alone. This year, that figure is expected to grow by one-sixth. 4.57bn people – nearly 3/5ths of the world’s population – are classed as “active internet users”. This was only possible because of the World Wide web.