Reminiscences was: A bit OT - Urban Myths?

Frank Shute frank at
Wed Jul 16 14:20:23 BST 2003

On Wed, Jul 16, 2003 at 12:08:12PM +0100, Matthew Seaman wrote:
> On Wed, Jul 16, 2003 at 11:01:59AM +0100, Peter McGarvey wrote:
> > * Paul Robinson <paul at> [2003-07-16 09:52:41 BST]:
> > > mainly driven by the web, invented circa early-94
> > 
> > My recollection of history is that the web was "invented" in 1980 by Tim
> > Berners-Lee, and that he developed his ideas, eventually "inventing"
> > HTTP in 1990.
> I think 1980 is a bit too early.  As I heard the story, the whole web
> concept was inspired by Scientists at CERN sending each other LaTeX
> documents, and using a NeXTSTEP program to view the formatted text.

IBM make/made a plugin for Netscape to view LaTeX: techexplorer but I
thought WWW was developed at CERN for shunting around and linking any
sort of documentation. ie. html and http were sort of developed
alongside each other.

> TBL wrote the first ever web browser under NeXTSTEP.  Which means that
> it can't have been available before 1988 or so, as the original NeXT
> cube wasn't released before then.  In fact, TBL's CV at
>, gives 1989 for the invention of
> the WWW and 1990 as the date for the original browser
> ''.
> As I remember it, the WWW hit the big time about 1993 --- ie. articles
> on the evening news, numbers of people outside acadaemia becoming
> aware, first Windows/Mac browsers appearing for free download.  I was
> at Oxford at the time: I remember a discussion on one of the internal
> mailing lists about how the official Oxford gopher site had just gone
> live, right when all the rest of the world were losing interest in
> gopher and putting out their first web sites.

My memories of the WWW are similar to yours. My mother got a modem &
Compuserve account in the early '90s before browsers started to
appear. The modem was 28.8kb & I think she got some crappy gopher
client from Compuserve....I remember the thrill of being able to get
the weather live in Australia! 

I hang my head in shame to think that my mother got wired up before I
did & what's more realised the enormous potential of it. She bought a
book called "Marketing on the Internet" or some such thing and it was
all about gopher. Still got the book I think, a real historical

I'd lost interest in computing by that time & was ill anyway. I hated
Windows compared to DOS (Windows 3.11 in those days - the joys of
Trumpet Winsock :) and wanted a Unix workstation but couldn't afford
one. It wasn't until I discovered free software in '96 that I got back
into computing, turned my 486 into a poor man's Unix workstation and
started enjoying it again.




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