The World Wide Web Turns 20

20th birthday cake

The World Wide Web has been second nature for so long, it’s sort of like oxygen.

That’s why it was so startling this morning when a colleague of mine sent me a link to a Gizmodo story┬ácelebrating the Web’s 20th anniversary. Really? Could it only have been two decades?

Life before the Web is sort of hazy. How did people find information quickly? Phone books and libraries and newspapers … You pretty much had to go to a bookstore for a book and a record store for music. Well, you could order things from home, but that required a catalog and some patience. Video was accessed on TV or at movie theaters.

Think of the fortunes that have been made, and lost.

Heck, 20 years ago I was a newspaper reporter. The paper I worked for is now defunct, and I’m writing a blog post. It could be argued that the Web is the most disruptive technology invented since the printing press.

CNN has a more in-depth piece on today’s cyber-significance. The Web itself actually dates back to 1989, when it was founded as “a way for scientists at different universities and other institutes to share information,” the article says. Today is the 20th anniversary of the day when “The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN … released, for free, the technology and software needed to run a Web server.”

It’s all very mind-boggling. And exciting.

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