Simon Miller Team : Web Development Tags : Web Development


Simon Miller Team : Web Development Tags : Web Development

Recently, Webmonkey published an article with the news that CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory and also the birth place of the World Wide Web – recently restored the world’s very first website to active status.

You can see it in all its glory here:

While it looks beyond basic in these days of fluid, responsive designs, the impact this first website had, initially hosted on the NeXT workstation of its creator, is simply revolutionary. Whole industries exist because of its existence. I get to develop ultra-cool websites instead of boring bank software – THAT’S how important CERN’s invention was.

The basic principles of this website haven’t changed – in fact some of the markup used has made a “comeback” (the description list tag <dl> only really came back in to use when CSS could harness it). What advances to a web page have we seen come (and go) since the World Wide Web’s inception?

  • CSS, or cascading style sheets. Separating design from form was probably the most important improvement in HTML
  • Image support. Websites would be fairly boring if they all look liked CERN’s “WWW User guide”.
  • CGI. Still in use today, CGI pioneered modern back-end development script and languages so that websites could accept user input and do something with form data.
  • JavaScript. CSS may control the layout, but for the most part it does not help with front-end functionality. Whenever you see a page swish, swoosh or slide, that’s JavaScript.
  • Rich media support. Thanks to advances in Adobe Flash and now HTML 5, video and audio are easily embedded in web pages. 


Also an important advancement was simply the huge increase in processing power on end-user desktops needed to run all of the above. Anybody that tried to play an MP3 on their 1995 Pentium 90 knows how easy we have it now with streaming 1080P video clips that don’t skip a beat.

Some things disappeared along the way as the web evolved. Anybody remember VRML, the Virtual Reality Modelling Language? No, I thought not. How about framesets? LiquidAudio? Flash navigation? Some things are best left forgotten.

And just how did the Wiliam website look 13 years ago? Click here to find out! You may need to wear sunglasses for the burning orange background.