Sure, Stanford’s Linear Accelerator Laboratory has produced some of the most important work on particle physics, and sure, work there has earned three Nobel Prizes in Physics, but Gizmodo recently shined some light on one of the lab’s most important contributions to modern scientific achievement — it hosted the very first web site in the United States.
Despite the popular legend that Al Gore invented the Internet, it was really the product of English computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The idea for what would eventually reshape the way humans communicated and interacted with each other came to Berners-Lee while he worked at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research located in France.
In 1989, he proposed the idea of the web, and two years later, he’d go on to publish the very first website ever — a page explaining the Word Wide Web project in 1991. It instructed viewers how they too could set up a web server, create their very own websites and web pages, and how they could search the web for information. This page’s very first URL was: http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/
Unfortunately, the link is not only inactive, but nobody thought the Internet important enough to document at first, meaning no one bothered to make a copy of the original web page. The earliest version of the world’s first website came a year later.
Rewind a couple years back to 1989, when the Internet was just an idea. Stanford physicist Tony Johnson watched Berners-Lee present his dream at a conference in France, and brought the idea back with him.
“I first saw a demonstration of the web at a conference in Southern France,” said Johnson in Stanford News earlier this month about the school’s Wayback archive site. “I immediately thought that it would be a great way of sharing information on the Internet.”
With the help of his college Paul Kunz, the duo set up the very first web server outside of Europe in December of 1991, just three months after the world’s first website launched. Since two Stanford scientists built it, the United States’ first website was naturally a simple information resource for Stanford’s Linear Accelerator Laboratory.
Now — 25 years later — the Internet has become a wonderful place to find out how the people you graduated high school with are doing, look at pictures of sardonic cats in funny poses, order pizza or tacos, binge watch entire seasons of mediocre television, and settle bar bets that that totally was the guy from that one movie.