Websites that Left Their Mark on History, Part 1

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Thirty years ago, Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist working at ECNR, the European Council for Nuclear Research, met with his supervisor to pitch an idea about information sharing among members of different scientific teams. This idea birthed what we know today as, and use very often, the world wide web. Concerning the internet, the last few decades have been filled with important successes and failures. Do you remember Neopet, Runescape, and ChatRoulette? Let's take a second to focus on a few of these sites that have had their mark on history, for good and bad.

The Very First Website

Perhaps you have already asked yourself this question: what was the first website on the web? Well, it was our scientist mentioned above, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who after having the idea of an information-sharing network, created the very first website in 1990. The site included information on how to create your own website and was hosted on a NeXT computer. As well, the first website was not very pretty, consisting only of a few lines of text. Keep in mind that it was innovative for the time! The language used to make the site was the father of our modern HTML which is still used today.

Then, websites and different servers spread through other scientific and academic communities. In 1992, there were 26 servers and then in 1993, 200! The original site unfortunately no longer exists, however, it is possible to find a copy of it via the site w3, an organization founded by Mr. Berners-Lee. The latter won the Turing Prize in 2016 and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for research in the advancement of humanity.

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When Yahoo! was King

Once upon a time, the web was a chaotic place where there was no search engine powerful enough to properly untangle everything. Two young Stanford students, Jerry Yang and David Filo, decided to create something that could help ordinary people navigate the new trend of the moment: the web. Yahoo! was first called "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web", then took the acronym "Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle". Then, the company began buying other specialty companies, including one offering email service. In summary, Yahoo! has made it possible to democratize the internet for the first generation of users and even had the audacity to refuse a purchase from Microsoft in 2008. The website was also one of the first to offer a place in research in exchange for money.

Unfortunately, over time Google and its increasingly complex algorithms based on the quality of websites have taken first position as a global search engine. Recent huge data and email leaks have hurt Yahoo!’s credibility which has benefited of its competitors.

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The Climax of Wikipedia

Admit that you used Wikipedia during your studies even though your teachers told you that it was not a reliable source of information! Did you know that Wikipedia was initially created to help another encyclopedic website, Nupedia. Back then, it was reserved for scientists and peer reviewed articles. It was therefore as a result of the need to increase the number of articles and its accessibility that Wikipedia was created to complement Nupedia which, for the most part, has disappeared. Our online encyclopedia was created in 2001 and there are currently more than 30 million articles in more than 280 languages. It's enormous!

The Rise and Fall of Napster

Napster? Do you remember this music sharing program, one of the pioneers in the industry? Based on the "peer-to-peer" system, Napster allowed people to download music for free, which was considered illegal. This resulted in many problems with copyright laws. In short, people shared various MP3 tracks and some saw it as a response to the control of the record companies. We were a long way from today's Spotify and Apple Music! Its creation was considered a turning point in the use of the web and its democratization, as well as illegal downloading which is still very common today.

Although Napster tried to follow the standards and eventually closed, it has inspired many others like The Pirate Bay. These newcomers tend to learn from Napster's mistakes in order to survive and stay out of lawmakers' reach. Do not worry too much about the founders, they have been successful in life, especially Sean Parker who helped Facebook with marketing!

In conclusion, we are certain that you now have in mind some good memories with these remains of the internet. There are now over 902 million websites, 3 million of which have been created with WebSelf! Tim Berners-Lee certainly did not have this number in mind when he founded the internet. Which site do you think should be on our list of websites that have made history? By the way, the page of the dancing hamster is not a good example!

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