Lesson 1: The World Wide Web
The World Wide Web
Right now you're using a special part of the Internet. It's called the World Wide Web (or just the Web, for short). The Web is what made the Internet so popular. Until the Web was created, the Internet was black and white and not read all over. Pages were text-only, with no color or graphics of any kind. It was great for scientific reports or government documents, but not for shopping for the latest CD from your favorite band or finding images for a school report. Consequently, the Internet was used primarily by scientists and engineers.
In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, an Oxford-trained computer scientist, had an idea for a "global hypertext project." To make his idea a reality, he developed new ways to navigate the Internet with a computer language called Hypertext Markup Language or HTML.
Hypertext is a different way of moving through information. Instead of reading text from beginning to end, you interact with it. You click a link and suddenly you're not moving through the text from start to finish like you would in a book or a magazine article. Instead, you're making a quick side trip or jump.
HTML is more than just hypertext, though. It's also a markup language—a system of codes for how a computer should display text and images on a screen. Markup languages also determine how a computer should react to actions you make such as pressing a key or clicking a mouse button. What made HTML such a perfect markup language for the Web is that it can be read by many types of computers and is very economical. It allows Web designers to create graphically rich Web pages that are small in file size. Small file sizes are important on a network like the Web because they are faster and easier to exchange over the thousands of miles often separating computers.
With the creation of HTML, the Web was born. HTML made it easy to create Web sites like this one that have images, videos and even sound. The small file allowed them to be quickly communicated over the Internet. Suddenly, everyone saw the potential of the Web as a global communications system and wanted to get on it. The Web grew rapidly. Today, millions of people access the Web daily for news, entertainment, shopping, education and business.