When Written: Nov 1999
VERDICT: An excellent read. A history of the World Wide Web by the man who invented it.
SUPPLIER: Amazon UK
Tim Berners-Lee is one of those names that will go down in history alongside such names as Marconi, Frank Whittle and, Edison. It was Tim Berners-Lee who not only came up with the idea of the World Wide Web but also tirelessly championed it’s cause making sure that it did not come under the control of any one commercial organisation. As any reader of this magazine knows the Web is probably the greatest leap in publishing since Caxton and has brought about a massive revolution in all areas of communication and commerce. We have seen URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) (originally called URIs Universal Resource Identifiers) creep into our lives.
This book is not so much about the man but about the history and evolution of the Web from his first ideas in 1980 through the first browser written on a NeXT box to the present day. The book covers the rise of Netscape and ‘the catch me up’ by Microsoft. There are some fascinating insights to some of the leading figures in the industry and background to some of the events which we can remember but at the time were not aware of the behind the scenes struggles.
Tim Berners-Lee was working in 1980 at CERN in Geneva. CERN is a huge European nuclear particle research establishment, doing pure research on sub atomic particles. Because of the vast amount of information in this establishment, every department had a need to organise it in some way. It was this that started Tim Berners-Lee to think along the lines that eventually led to the web. His first effort was a program called ‘Enquire’ named after a series of books which the older ones of us will remember, called ‘Enquire Within Upon Everything’. This book could be likened to the Victorian Web, containing as it did information on almost everything you would need to know from clearing drains to the rules of card games. Tim Berners-Lee eventually went on to form W3C, which is the body that maintains and develops the standards for the web’s protocols and its languages. This body is necessary to make sure that no one organisation could take control of the web by forcing its own proprietary standards.
This book is well written and makes for a very interesting read, with a useful glossary at the back. Even if the Web is ‘not your bag’ you should read this, as it is the story of the beginning of one of the greatest revolutions of our time. Made all the more interesting because it was one man’s insight and energy that in his words ‘got the bobsleigh started’. This man’s motives were not to make money, but to provide a means that everyone could publish and exchange information around the world. A rare and admiral attribute.
VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/6
Article by: Mark Newton
Published in: Mark Newton