A world library-from gopher to the WWW
As the Internet grew through the 1980s and early 1990s, many people realized the increasing need to be able to find and organize files and information. Projects such as Gopher, WAIS, and the FTP Archive list attempted to create ways to organize distributed data. Unfortunately, these projects fell short in being able to accommodate all the existing data types and in being able to grow without bottlenecks.
One of the most promising user interface paradigms during this period was hypertext. The technology had been inspired by Vannevar Bush‘s “Memex” and developed through Ted Nelson‘s research on Project Xanadu and Douglas Engelbart‘s research on NLS. Many small self-contained hypertext systems had been created before, such as Apple Computer’s HyperCard.
In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee was the first to develop a network-based implementation of the hypertext concept. This was after Berners-Lee had repeatedly proposed his idea to the hypertext and Internet communities at various conferences to no avail-no one would implement it for him. Working at CERN, Berners-Lee wanted a way to share information about their research. By releasing his implementation to public use, he ensured the technology would become widespread. Subsequently, Gopher became the first commonly-used hypertext interface to the Internet. While Gopher menu items were examples of hypertext, they were not commonly perceived in that way. One early popular web browser, modeled after HyperCard, was ViolaWWW.
Scholars generally agree, however, that the turning point for the World Wide Web began with the introduction of the Mosaic (web browser) in 1993, a graphical browser developed by a team at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (NCSA-UIUC), led by Marc Andreessen. Funding for Mosaic came from the High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative, a funding program initiated by then-Senator Al Gore‘s High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991 also known as the Gore Bill.. Indeed, Mosaic’s graphical interface soon became more popular than Gopher, which at the time was primarily text-based, and the WWW became the preferred interface for accessing the Internet.
Mosaic was eventually superseded in 1994 by Andreessen’s Netscape Navigator, which replaced Mosaic as the world’s most popular browser. Competition from Internet Explorer and a variety of other browsers has almost completely displaced it. Another important event held on January 11, 1994, was The Superhighway Summit at UCLA‘s Royce Hall. This was the “first public conference bringing together all of the major industry, government and academic leaders in the field [and] also began the national dialogue about the Information Superhighway and its implications.”