Today Cern is celebrating 20 years of the free, open web.
We all know the World Wide Web was created in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, during his time at Cern. But did you know that it was another four years until the particle physics lab officially declared the web a free for all?
On 30 April 1993, Cern published a letter declaring that they were putting the technology that underpins the web into the public domain. Without this document, the internet would be a very different place today.
(As a side note, the Word Wide Web is referred to in the the letter as W3 — imagine how many Ws we’d have saved typing if that had caught on!)
Here’s the crucial paragraph:
The following CERN software is hereby put into the public domain:
- W3 basic (“line-mode”) client
- W3 basic server
- W3 library of common code
CERN’s intention in this is to further compatibility, common practices, and standards in networking and computer supported collaboration.
They made sure to add: “This does not constitute a precedent to be applied to any other CERN copyright software.”
In other Cern news, did you also know that in 1983 the then Director General told Margaret Thatcher about the W boson discovery, before announcing it to the world? The things you can learn from the Cern document server…