The Web is Almost Old Enough to Drink in Some States

Twenty years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee posted to the alt.hypertext newsgroup a message in response to a request about ongoing research in the field of hypertext technology and announced publicly for the first time the existence of the World Wide Web. You can still read the original thread online.

Like most gigantic ideas, his was a simple and seemingly tame, even limited, notion. It grew over the first few years slowly and methodically and largely invisibly until two years later when the first popularly usable graphical Web browser, Mosaic, was released by researchers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

I got my first glimpse of Mosaic within a week of its release in the locked office of an engineer at Taligent, the ill-fated joint effort of Apple, IBM and Motorola to create an object-oriented operating system originally code-named Pink at Apple. I caught the vision but all I could do was drool. Soon, some of the original developers teamed up with Silicon Valley money and created what was first called Netscape Navigator. Mozilla is Navigator's successor, a result of a decision to take Navigator Open Source when the proliferation of free browsers made that business an irrational place to invest. 

I've built a great deal of my career and what success I've had on the Web without stopping to think that if I'd been 10 years younger and a lot better educated in technology, I might have been one of those pioneers building directly on top of Berners-Lee's genius.

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