First Decade

The Web

By 1990 the Internet had been around for decades but it still had relatively few users, then there were three events that changed everything. The first was the invention of the World Wide Web the next Congress passed an act that led to commerce on the Internet and the third was the invention of the Mosaic browser. The Timeline also includes other early events.

Tim Berners-Lee Congressional Seal Marc Andresson


Tim Berners Lee
Most of the technology involved in the web, like the hypertext, the internet, multifont text, had been designed already. I just had to put them together. It was a step of generalizing, going to a level of higher abstraction. tim berners-lee

tim berners-lee

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, while he was working at CERN, Switzerland. He developed it between 1989 and 1990. It went Online in 1991. He is now the Director of W3C, The World Wide Web Consortium.

Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee
The WWW program consists of:

URL- Universal Resource Locater, the address

HTTP - Hypertext Transfer Protocol, transmits text and graphics over TCP/IP

HTML- Hypertext Markup Language, describes how text and graphics should be displayed

Initially a browser which also served as a web editor was included. This browser could access Usenet newsgroups and FTP files but it could only run on the NeXT computer.

Nicola Pellow created a simple text browser (Line Mode Browser) that could run on almost any computer.

At the time the WWW was invented there were less than 1000 networks connected to the Internet with about 150,000 computers attached to them. The first web page.
The United States Congress Seal

U.S. Congress passed the Scientific and Advanced-Technology Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1862(g), in 1992

opening the internet to commerce

In 1988 Vinton Cerf was allowed to link MCI mail to link to federal networks but it was not until 1992, that the U.S. Congress passed the Scientific and Advanced-Technology Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1862(g), which allowed the National Science Foundation Network, NSFNET* to support access by the research and education communities to computer networks which were not used exclusively for research and education purposes. Although this Act did not specifically permit NSFNET to interconnect with commercial networks, it opened the way for commerce to be connected.

Final restrictions on commerce were lifted in April, 1995.

* By the 1980s the ARPANET (the original network/Internet) was vastly overburdened, in response The National Science Foundation created a number of supercomputer centers around the country along with a backbone network which connected all of the centers and allowed connections for research and education.

In April 1995 National Science Foundation ended its sponsorship of the NSFNET Backbone Service  The National Science Foundation went on to sponsor vBNS a very high-speed Backbone Network Service which provided high-speed connections between the the supercomputing centers and other access points within the United States.


This is an interesting paper on the Privatization of the Internet’s Backbone Network by Rajiv C. Shah & Jay P. Kesan


Mosaic was the first browser that could display text, images and multimedia together, it lead the way to Netscape. Netscape took off immediately and it success was phenomenal.


mosaic icon
mosaic icon

In 1993 the NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois)  released the Mosaic browser. This browser was created by a team of students at NCSA. Marc Andreessen was the leader of the team. Mosaic was the first browser that could display text, images and multimedia together. Before browsers could display both text and images but not on the same page. Links were blue and underlined. Mosaic was much more user friendly that previous browers and very simple to install. It soon became very popular.

Marc Andressen
Marc Andreessen
Initially Mosaic was only available for Unix but later in 1993 versions were released for the mac and windows.


By the end of 1993 Marc Andreessen had left NCSA to form a partnership with Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics Inc. In turn they hired some of the most experienced Mosaic developers.

Jim Clarke
Jim Clark

Their company was originally named Mosaic Communications Corporation and their browser Mosaic Netscape but due to a legal challenge from the NCSA the name was changed to Netscape Communications Corporation and their browser was named Netscape Navigator which was released in 1994.

Later versions were named Netscape Communications and eventually just Netscape. Netscape was very innovative it had support for javaScript, java, video, audio and Shockwave in turn Flash. It also included numberous other features. Netscape took of immediately and it success was phenomenal. Suddenly, it seemed as if everyone was on the web.


With success came competition, the most challeging from Microsoft which shipped their new browser Internet Explorer intergrated into their own operating system. This was the beginning of the browser wars which in 1998 Microsoft won. The same year Netscape Communications was aquired by AOL. Also in 1998 Netscape released their source code without charge so that it could be made available for free licensing on the Internet. The Mozilla project was created with the release of the Netscape source code.


Year event
1991 www online
WWW went Online
The WWW program was developed between 1989 and 1990 and it went Online in 1991.
1991 www online
Opening the Internet to Commerce
U.S. Congress passed the Scientific and Advanced-Technology Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1862(g), which opened the way for commerce to be connected.
1993 Marc Andreessen
Mosaic Brower
Mosaic Browser Released, which was created by Marc Andreessen and a team of students from NCSA at the University of Illinois. This was the first browser in which text and images could be displayed on the same page.

Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark
Netscape Communications

At the end of 1993 Marc Andreessen joined Jim Clark to form Netscap Communications. They hired some of the most experienced Mosaic developers. They released Netscape 1.0 in 1994.

1994 Tim Berners-Lee
W3C Founded
Tim Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium, (W3C) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in collaboration with CERN, with support from DARPA and the European Commission
Giuido van Russum
Pylon 1.0 Released

Guido van Rossum releases the the first version of Python, a dynamic language often used for server side scripting
1994 Hakon - CSS
Håkon W Lie proposes the Cascading HTML Style Sheets language, while working with Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau at CERN. CSS allows the separation of the structure from the styles for a web page and in turn increases accessibility. Although its most common application is to style web pages written in HTML and XHTML, it can also be applied to XML, SVG and XUL. It would be some time before all browsers would interprete CSS correctly.
1995 www online
HTML 2.0
Tim Berners-Lee and Dan Connolly publish the first official standardization of HTML 2.0.
1995 Opera
Netscape Navigator Browser
Introduced JavaScript, image maps, GIF89a plugins, animated GIFs, They also included the font, div and textarea elements.

Opera Browser
The company Opera Software releases to the general public the Opera Browser, which had originally been a research project of Elenore, a Norwegian telecommunications company.

1995 Rasmus Lerdorf
Rasmus Lerdorf
announces the first release of PHP. It was originally called "Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools)". php is a server side scripting language which is designed for the web.
1995 Hakon - CSS
Internet Access
America Online, Compuserve, and Prodigy begin to provide Internet access.
1995 Hakon - CSS
Amazon, Craigslist, Ebay
Amazon, Craigslist and eBay go live.
1995 nsfnet
NSFNET Backbone Decommissioned

The original NSFNET backbone is decommissioned and commercial enterprise is largely completed.
1995 nsfnet
Internet Explorer
Microsoft released its first browser, Internet Explorer, which was based on source code licensed from Spyglass, itself derived from NCSA Mosaic.
1996 nsfnet
Cascading Style Sheets, become a recommendation of the W3C.
Css was invented by Håkon W Lie and Bert Bos.

1996 nsfnet
Todd Fahrner proposed using the DOCTYPE of an HTML document as the basis for deciding whether a browser should implement a strictly standards based approach to rendering a page.
1997 nsfnet
Standardization of javaScript begins. Netscape submits JavaScript to ECMA International for standardization.
1997 nsfnet

Netscape 4
It featured some CSS support
1997 nsfnet
Html 3 - 4
HTML 3.2 was the first version developed and standardized by the W3C. It adopted most of Netscape's visual markup tags.
HTML 4.0 was published later in the same year as a W3C Recommendation . It included many element types and attributes.
It offered three variations: Strict - deprecated elements are forbidden
Traditional - deprecated elements are allowed
Frameset - in which frames are only allowed
It sought to phase out Netscrape's visual markup features by marking them deprecated and urging the use of style sheets.

1998 nsfnet
Mozilla Open Source The codebase for the Netscape Browser is open sourced by the Netscape Communications Corporation.
1998 nsfnet
America Online buys out Netscape Communications
America Online, the Internet access service, acquires Netscape Communications in a deal valued at $4.2 billion..
1998 nsfnetCSS 2
CSS2 introduced a large number of new features. It would be many years before they were adopted by the majority of browsers. These new features included positioning - relative, absolute and fixed. New selectors, including child, descendent and attribute selectors. Also included the :hover attribute and web fonts
2000 nsfnet The Dot.Com Bubble Burst
" Venture capitalists saw record-setting growth as dot-com companies experienced meteoric rises in their stock prices and therefore moved faster and with less caution than usual, choosing to mitigate the risk by starting many contenders and letting the market decide which would succeed." wikipedia Most failed.