100 Greatest Science Inventions of All Time

By Kendall Haven | Go to book overview

World Wide Web
Year of Invention: 1991

What Is It? A set of software programs designed to allow easier navigation of
computer networks through the use of graphical user interfaces and hyper-
text links.

Who Invented It? Tim Berners-Lee (in Geneva, Switzerland)


Why Is This Invention One of the 100 Greatest?

The Internet and the World Wide Web have opened the world and its full range of information to our fingertips—the best classes, best products, and best resources. Art, information, maps, phone books—it seems that everything a person could want can be found on the Web.

The World Wide Web has transformed school, education, shopping, the marketing and promotion of products and ideas, and political debate.

Most startling, the Web is still in its infancy. Its impact on our lives is just beginning. There seems to be no limit to how deeply this invention will intrude into our lives and control how we live them.


History of the Invention

What Did People Do Before?

People wrote letters. People talked on the phone. They visited. They used bulky phone books and store catalogs. People had drawers stuffed with folded maps and address books. Schools had no student computers and no computer labs.


How Was the World Wide Web Invented?

There are two parts to this grand invention: the Internet and the World Wide Web. The Internet is primarily hardware. It is the tens of thousands of host computers all linked together so that anyone who can reach any of these computers can, in fact, reach them all.

The Internet grew, almost organically, as individual computer networks that were one-by-one linked over a 35-year period.

The Internet began with the ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) net, first envisioned in 1967 and brought into existence in 1969. ARPA linked government and university research computers. In 1972 Ray Tomlinson invented an e-mail program for the ARPA

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