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Wednesday, 25 September 2013 09:58

CERN preserves first WWW site

Written by Nick Farrell

Party like it is 1990

The European Centre for Nuclear Research, Cern, which gave birth to the world wide web, is showing visitors what it is like to surf the web in that ancient time.

Earlier this year, CERN brought the world's first website back to life (using the original URL). But that was stage one of a project, led by CERN’s web manager, Dan Noyes, to preserve as much about that first website, created by Tim Berners-Lee, as possible.

The initial idea was to restore and preserve the hardware and software used to serve up the first website up, but to also recreate the experience of visiting that first site twenty years ago. They have preserved Berners-Lee’s original NeXT computer as well as the data on it and dug up the original web site code. They have also restored the site to its original IP address (128.141.201.74).

The next challenge was to create a line-mode browser emulator because most people in the early 1990s didn’t have computers with graphical user interfaces. Visitors navigated the site with just the keyboard. CERN recently assembled a team of a dozen accomplished developers to create a line-mode browser emulator to work as an app or in a modern day browser.

The next stage is to recreate the experience of using the first graphical web browser that Berners-Lee created on his NeXT computer, originally called WorldWideWeb and later renamed Nexus.

Nick Farrell

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