Thursday, June 21, 2007

World Wide Colossal Cave

Who is the man in that picture? If you don't know, shame on you... you're looking at Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the World Wide Web. I was doing a little browsing on the history of the Internet and the World Wide Web today (no, they are NOT the same thing) and ended up at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. That's where Berners-Lee first proposed the idea, and CERN also, therefore, had the world's first website. Check out the story, and the original proposal he submitted, here.

In the proposal, Berners-Lee refers to two things I would never have guessed were influential in the creation of the web we all take for granted.

Firstly, the original ADVENT game by Crowther & Woods, also know as Colossal Cave to later generations, which was probably the first game to create an alternate world with which one could interact realistically and with some degree of intelligence. Its use of nodes and links were a major influence on the idea of the web.

Secondly, Apple and their much-maligned early programming language, presentation software, and all-round ideas visualiser - HyperCard. Over the years HyperCard copped a lot of flak, but for those of us who were there, it was the first programming language which made graphics as easy as text, and allowed the creation of just about anything, in a very simple to learn language.

Strange to think that two of the oldest bastions of popular computing pathed the way for the globe-spanning super-encyclopedic oracle of human knowledge we have today.

Berners-Lee's original Proposal

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