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A humble physicist is the father of the web
Websites are becoming ever more sophisticated; utilising music, video and all manner of bells and whistles to create truly interactive experiences. The coding languages used to create these sites are becoming more complex and intuitive for programmers to use. Java, CSS and Ajax all evolved from a simple programming language born when the internet became available for public use.
The person who invented HTML (known as the ‘father of the web’) was not a computer programmer, but a physicist working at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland. HTML’s inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, wanted to create a way for researchers to be able to use the internet to collaborate and share information.
Instead of data being stored on single computers, he wanted a system by which people could link all their data together and enable people to be able to search by following the links. Recently he commented that “the original idea of the web was that it should be a collaborative space where you can communicate through sharing information.”
Tim Berners-Lee invented HTML as a means for being able to convert any document on a simple word processor into a file viewable on the internet; thus becoming available to anybody with an internet connection.
In its first incarnation, HTML was easy to master with only a few simple tags to learn. Its initial simplicity meant that it was adopted by early web developers everywhere and helped the world-wide-web to flourish.
The web’s early browsers were only designed to display text. It wasn’t until ‘Mosaic’ was released, with its graphical interface, that developers started expanding the codes used in HTML to include images. Mosaic was the brainchild of Marc Andreessen, who would later move on to start Netscape – the main web browser until Microsoft joined the party with Internet Explorer, which remains the dominant browser today.
Over time, developers from all over the globe continued to add to HTML’s tags to include backgrounds, frames, graphics etc. Programmers and web developers today now all specialize in a range of coding languages, but the basis for all of them still remains rooted in the conventions invented with HTML.
Tim Berners-Lee, forever immortalized as the person who invented HTML, is still heavily involved in the web today as Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C is an association created to maintain the observance of the web’s agreed best practices, and to continue promoting its development into the twenty-first century.
In December 2003, Tim Berners-Lee was awarded a knighthood by the British Queen for his services in creating a system for organising, linking and browsing net pages. Quite modestly, Tim has referred to his ground breaking HTML language as “just another program”.