Scientists' search for 1st Web page leads them to N.C. prof
For the European physicists who developed the World Wide Web, preserving its history is as elusive as unlocking the mysteries of how the universe began.
The scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN, are searching for the first Web page. It was at CERN that Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web in 1990 as an unsanctioned project, using a NeXT computer that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs designed in the late 80s during his 12-year exile from the company.
Dan Noyes oversees CERN's website and has taken on the project to uncover the world's first Web page. He says that no matter how much data they sort through, researchers might never make a clear-cut discovery of the original Web page because of the nature of how data is shared.
“The concept of the earliest Web page is kind of strange,” Noyes said. “It's not like a book. A book exists through time. Data gets overwritten and looped around. To some extent, it is futile.”
In April, CERN restored a 1992 copy of the first website that Berners-Lee made to arrange CERN-related information. It was the earliest copy CERN could find at the time, and Noyes promised to keep looking.
Once National Public Radio did a story on the search, a professor at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill came forward with a 1991 version. Paul Jones met Berners-Lee during the British scientist's visit to the United States for a conference in 1991, just a year after Berners-Lee invented the Web. Jones said Berners-Lee shared the page with the professor, who has transferred it from server to server through the years. A version remains on the Internet at an archive Jones runs, ibiblio.
The Web page Jones preserved is familiar and quaint. There are no flashy graphics or video clips. Instead, it is a page of text on a white background with 19 hyperlinks. Some of the links, such as ones leading to information about CERN, have been updated and still work. On the other hand, a link to the phone numbers for CERN staffers is dead.
Noyes said he'll keep searching for earlier versions of the page, noting that he has to sort through plenty of old disks and other data submitted after NPR's story was released.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kennametal expects to consolidate plants as it shrinks manufacturing
- GNC to convert more stores to franchises as sales, profits slip
- Range Resources cuts workforce 11%
- Post-Gazette offers voluntary buyouts in bid to avoid layoffs
- Muni bond funds stressed
- U.S. Steel CEO expects rebound
- PPG puts brand 1st in strategy to reach commercial paint market
- Travelers find direct Web route to Priory’s spirited past in North Side
- United Airlines hack coincided with incursion into government employee data
- Voice-assisted technology raises privacy concerns
- EPA ordered to ease limits on cross-border air pollution that involves Pennsylvania