PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — On March 12, 1989, British scientist Tim Berners-Lee changed the world.
He submitted his first proposal for the World Wide Web at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
“The Internet already existed and you could send email, but there were no websites. So, there was no http, no html. There was no space of things you could click through,” said Berners-Lee. “I imagined a system where you could just click from one to the other and that was so compelling that I decided that I wanted to build it.”
Berners-Lee went to work inventing the World Wide Web. The computer he used went on display today at London’s Science Museum.
A handwritten sticker on the side of the box read, “This machine is a server – do not power down.”
“To do that, if you turned it off, that would’ve been like turning off the World Wide Web,” he says.
Berners-Lee published the first website in 1992, but could not have predicted what would follow.
“I don’t think even Tim thought, as he sat at that computer 25 years ago, that the impact could have been so profound,” said Rick Haythornthwaite, the chairman of the World Wide Web Foundation.
A recent report by the Pew Research Center finds 87 percent of American adults now use the Internet. Also, 68 percent connect to the Internet with mobile devices like smartphones or tablet computers.
“It has changed the world, allowed billions of people to create, communicate, collaborate, change economies, spread democracy,” Haythornthwaite said.
The Pew report finds most people agree — the Internet has been a plus for society.
The web’s inventor wants to keep it that way.
Berners-Lee is pushing for a digital “bill of rights” to protect Internet users from surveillance.
“We need to think about the next 25 years and make sure that we’ve established the principles that the web is being based on; principles of openness, principles of privacy, principles of not being censored,” Berners-Lee said.
Who knows what the next 25 years will bring.
“I often wish that I’d been born a bit later,” said Martha Lane-Fox, the co-founder of LastMinute.com. “I think we will look back on this time as the start of an adventure and we have no idea how it will play out.”