History of the world wide web

Web.com Team

Key Takeaways

  • The history of the World Wide Web is filled with interesting stories and people. 
  • Exploring that history helps us better understand online technology.
  • Use lessons from the past to enhance your approach to online marketing today.

Sir Thomas Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, always saw things a bit differently. At an early age, he invented technologically advanced gadgets to control his electric trains. While attending Oxford University in England, he spent his free time developing computers from old television sets. As a software engineer at CERN, a Switzerland-based physics laboratory, Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to make data sharing easier with scientists around the world. What he created next has been called revolutionary, life-changing and one of the greatest developments in human history. He simply called it the World Wide Web.

Like Berners-Lee, your big ideas can make a difference when starting a new business. Here’s a brief history of the World Wide Web (WWW), online marketing and how you can use this unparalleled technology to your advantage. 

The Early Years of the World Wide Web

Revolutionary technology is often created by taking existing resources and expanding their applications. Berners-Lee understood the value of “hypertext” keywords, which made data searchable within a document and built on this concept to make information easily shareable and searchable on the internet. He developed his World Wide Web concept on a NeXT computer, one of Steve Jobs’ (of Apple fame) early inventions. 

After multiple rejections, Berners-Lee convinced his boss of the project’s value and the WWW began to take shape. Showing incredible foresight, Berners-Lee insisted that the WWW be non-proprietary to CERN and available and free to worldwide users – a move that resulted in the easily accessible internet that we know today. Introduced in 1991, the WWW sparked a global wave of creativity that continues today. 

Original Web Innovations


Berners-Lee’s first web page took months to create and consisted of simple text links. The page encouraged content submissions to the World Wide Web. Although the original page malfunctioned and was thought to be lost, a North Carolina scientist revealed that he had downloaded a prototype of the page and it was restored to its original web address in 2014. Today, the world’s first web page continues to receive thousands of visits each month. 

Now, over 3.4 billion people access the WWW daily. 


When computer lab employees use an online camera to monitor a coffee pot in their kitchen, the web link goes viral and officially becomes the world’s first webcam. After 10 years and millions of online views, the computer lab decides to take the link offline. On the final day of online video transmission, the webcam’s view changes from the coffee pot to the monitor it was connected to and the last recorded image is of a worker’s fingers turning the computer off. 

Now, there are over 10 million webcams operating on the WWW. 


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) debuts the world’s first online newspaper with written content and graphics. While primarily read by students and faculty, interest spreads as more readers discover the online publication on the WWW and it develops a national following. The online edition is still going strong today and includes university, national and international readership.

Now, over 90 percent of all Americans gather news from the WWW each day.


The World Wide Web Worm crawls at a snail’s pace but becomes the first popular search engine. Developed by Oliver McBryan, a computer scientist at the University of Colorado, the World Wide Web Worm is soon purchased by GoTo.com, a pioneer of paid search in which advertisers make an investment to rank higher in online search results. The GoTo brand is purchased by Yahoo! for $1.6 billion dollars in 2006. Today, all online search engines can trace their roots to World Wide Web Worm technology. 

Now, Google receives over 63,000 searches per second


As an understanding of the WWW grows, many people buy domain names for an investment. For example, the owner of purple.com (which originally was simply a purple web page with a purchase price) eventually sells the domain to a bedding company for over a million dollars. In 2019, the Voice.com domain name was sold for $30 million making it the largest publicly reported all-cash domain sale of all time. 

Now, a website domain name has become as important as a business name and there are nearly 2 billion domain names and websites on the WWW.

Tracking the 2000s.

As the WWW continued to progress, so did many new types of business websites. Google developed a convenient search engine that still is a market favorite today, eBay introduced an innovative online auction format and Amazon became the world’s first true online department store. In addition, Monster and Indeed changed the world of business networking and the way we approach employment opportunities. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, first designed for social interaction, discovered ways to monetize value for advertisers.

Now, over 4 billion people – over half the world population – access the WWW on a daily basis and there are over 2 billion websites. The possibilities for business applications seem endless. 

Fast Forward: Using Present-Day Web Features for your Business

We’ve come a long way since the days of dial-up modems, floppy disks, and microfiche for storing data. As the WWW and accompanying technology continues to develop, you have unprecedented opportunities to build your business with online marketing. Here are things you can do.

Create or enhance your website – the hub of your brand. 

Your website is your online storefront that gives your business instant credibility and means you’re open for business 24 hours a day. With over 2 billion online shoppers, your website is where customers will find you to learn more about your unique products and services and to interact with your brand. 

Web.com makes it easier and more affordable than ever to establish an online presence. Take a closer look at our website package solutions to determine what plan best fits your online marketing goals. 

Attract more visitors to your website with social media

Implementing and staying consistent with a social media calendar will build stronger relationships with your customers, keep them updated about your business and attract more visitors to your website. Use your posts to offer discounts, promote new content on your website or reinforce your brand benefits. Social media helps you build an online community of followers – and can help your business increase revenue.

Help your customers find you online with SEO keyword content

Nearly 90 percent of all customers who research a business online, call or visit the business within 24 hours. Including SEO keywords in your website content helps your business rank higher in online search directories so customers can easily find you. Web.com can help you determine a keyword strategy, show you how to create SEO-rich content for your website and measure the results to determine the effectiveness of your investment.

Increase online sales with eCommerce.

Online shopping generates about $3 trillion in revenue. Leverage this growing trend by generating online (eCommerce) sales through your website. Offering online sales opportunities makes shopping convenient for your customers and you can even make money while you sleep. Protect your customers’ personal information with SSL certificates. The small padlock icon lets customers know that it’s safe to shop on your site and having this important protection can help you rank higher in online search directories. 

Make a personal connection with your customers with email campaigns

When customers come into your store or contact you online, be sure to gather their email addresses. Use email campaigns to stay in touch and build stronger relationships with customers and prospects and keep them engaged with your products and services. This will help to build greater brand awareness, attract more visitors to your website and generate more revenue.

Use Online Marketing to Build a Bright Future for Your Business

While the World Wide Web has an interesting and colorful past, you can leverage the benefits of online marketing to help your business see a bright future. Web.com can show you how. 

Products mentioned in this blog post include:

Website Package Solutions

Small Business Social Media Services

Small Business SEO Services

eCommerce Website Builder for Small Business

Website Security for Small Business Safety

Small Business Email Accounts

Images: Shutterstock

  • Web.com Team

    Our goal is to be your go-to partner in today’s always-on digital world.

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