History of the World Wide Web


The World Wide Web has fueled the information age like nothing before it. Almost every person now can have access to the vast array of information contained on the Web. Libraries offer free connections to the Internet and Internet Service Providers (ISP) are even giving away computers to people who sign service contracts with them.

Web-based companies offer some of the most sought after stocks in the equities market. One can hardly read the newspaper, listen to the radio or watch the television without hearing about the Internet. We are truly in the age of the Internet and the Web, which has grown out of it.

The Internet was developed in the early 1960s as a project of the Department of Defense and Advanced Research Project Association, otherwise known as ARPA, ARPA created a computer network that allowed its various research facilities to have computer access to research at its other facilities. This first network was called ARPA Net.

The ARPA Net was designed over the course of a number of years. Its final design was presented at a symposium in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in 1%7. By 1969, four university campuses were hooked together to form the first portion of the ARPA Net, These universities were Stanford Research Institute, U.C.L.A., U.C, Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah.

In the early 1970s, the ARPA Net grew to 2,3 sites. Although the ARPA Net could allow researchers to share a multitude of information, e-mail emerged as the most popular use for the system. By 1973, the ARPA Net had sites around the world.

In the mid-70s, the ARPA Net was opened to the public but this was not widely known, and it was not widely utilized. In 1979, two graduate students at Duke University, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis along with Steve Bellovin at the University of North Carolina established the first Use Net group. The Use Net group allowed users from different ARPA Net sites to discuss topics of specific interest to them.

In 1981, ARPA Net had 213 sites. A site was added approximately every twenty days.

In the early 1980s, a communication language known as TCP/IP was developed as a common language for all computers on the ARPA Net. By 1982, the network of computers communicating under the TCP/IP language became known as the Internet.

Later, in the '80s, the ownership of computers was no longer limited to universities and government agencies who were able to afford large computers or supercomputers. Desktop computing and personal computers became more prevalent and popular. By 1987, the number of sites on the Internet exceeded 10,000. By 1989, that number exceeded 100,000. In 1990, it exceeded 300,000. Ironically, in 1990, the original ARPA Net was shut down and abandoned.

In the early 1990s, the government lifted many of the restrictions on Internet usage allowing it to be used for more commercial purposes. The University of Minnesota developed a program called Gopher that, for the first time, allowed users of the Internet to navigate on it more easily.

In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee, who was working in Switzerland, developed a computer code, which he posted on a news group called "alt.hypertext." The code was a universal language that allowed easy navigation on the Internet and the use of multi-media attachments. This is the HTML programming language that now is used on the World Wide Web.

In 1993, the first graphical-based web browser became available. It was known as Mosaic. Between 1994 and 1996, approximately 4 million people were connected to the Internet. By 1996, the number of Internet users was almost 10 million.

In 2000, virtually every person in the United States who would like access to the World Wide Web has a way to obtain it. Many libraries offer free access, and ISPs offer free computers to customers who sign up for Internet service. Internet commerce is booming and investment in Internet related companies is staggering.

American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section

Vol.1, No. 3 June 2000


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