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Happy 20th Birthday to the Web

Written By: Joel Baglien
Posted: 4/30/2013

The Web that we all know today is only 20 years old. Today!  On April 30, 1993 CERN released Tim Berners-Lee's W3 software to the public domain.  Early web browswers soon followed and the web that surrounds us today came to life.  For those of us who lived through those early days, it was a lot like the quote from Spock (original Star Trek), "I am endeavoring ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bearskins."  Early web tools were mostly stone knives and other blunt objects.

For those reading who don't know their history . . . yes, the Internet has been around since the 1960's.  It was funded by the US Defense Department as a protocol (TCP/IP) to provide alternate routing of nuclear launch codes via connected computers.  Look it up if you don't believe me.  The web is a relative adolescent.

So back in the day, Mosaic and Netscape were brand new and the only browsers worth knowing.  Microsoft didn't recognize that the web was the key to their future success - yet.  They missed some pretty big windows of opportunity and had to scamble to make up lost ground - think Internet Explorer version 1.0 which wasn't released until 1995.  Believe it or not, you actually had to pay for IE 2.0 at $20 a copy.  It wasn't until IE version 3.0 released in August 1995 (for free) and bundled with Windows 95 that Microsoft really started to make it's presence known in the web.  If you want to learn more pay a visit to Wikipedia.

Websites were designed and built the hard way - HTML code in a simple editing tool.  Again, blunt tools.  Vermeer Technologies invented a WYSIWYG editor for web pages.  Vermeer, like a lot of smaller start up web companies, was acquired by Microsoft in early 1996.  The tool was re-branded FrontPage and released in conjunction with Windows NT 4.0 and IIS 2.0.  Building websites suddenly got easier or at least by 1996 the knife had a sharper edge on it.

New jobs and titles were emerging.  No one heard the term "webmaster" before 1993.  I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time with both a business and IT background.  In 1994 I was given the directive by my CIO to "figure out a business model for the Web".  Suddently, I was an in-house entrepreneur with no resources, no budget, no staff, and limited knowledge.  I had to beg and borrow from business units, wrangle old tired servers from my buddies in IT, and do a lot of the building myself.  It was an amazing time.  Everything was new - the features and functionality of today were the stuff of pipe dreams.  It took a couple of years until I acquired the new job of "Web Technologies Manager" - it's been full speed ahead ever since.

Happy 20th Birthday to the Web!  Here's to the next 20!

Oh, and Tim, thanks for the great career.

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 4/30/2013 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments