A blast from the past: Looking back at the history of the Web

While we like to look forward, sometimes a trip down memory lane can be just as interesting. It doesn’t just give perspective on how far we have come, it also shows us the enormous potential for the future.

We’ve had our shares of retrospectives on this blog, and many of them have dealt with different aspects of how the Web has grown from being just a small project at CERN in the early 90s to the overwhelmingly popular place it is today.

These are some of the best Web history articles from our archives, for your reading pleasure. All aboard, destination Memory Lane!

  • How we got from 1 to 162 million websites on the Internet – We have come a long way since the first baby steps of the World Wide Web. Back in January of 1996 we had 100,000 websites, and if we go back to mid 1993 there were only a total of 130 websites. Not much need for Google in those days… So how has the number of websites grown over time? Here is how we got to where we are today. (Note: since this article was published, the number of websites has grown way past 200 million.)
  • The Web back in 1996-1997 – Back in 1996 the Web was starting to gain some serious momentum, but it was still just a few years old. Looking back at the popular websites of that time can be both a nostalgic and entertaining experience.
  • Before Google became Google: The original setup at Stanford University – Since it launched in 1998, Google has become one of the true giants of the Internet. These days, Google has data centers all around the world and hundreds of thousands of servers. The sheer size of Google today makes it very interesting to look back at its humble beginnings as a small research project called Backrub at Stanford University.
  • Nine things you didn’t know about search engines – We take search engines for granted these days. They exist because they have to. Without them, going through and finding relevant information in the millions and millions of pages that exist on the Web would be an almost impossible task. Here’s a quick look at the history and evolution of search engines.
  • A visual history of 11 successful blogs – Many of the blogs that have huge followings today go back to much more humble beginnings. This post is a look at how they got started and what they looked like in their early days, compared to today. We included blogs like Gizmodo, Boing Boing, Engadget, TechCrunch, Gawker and more.
  • RSS turns 10: Here is how RSS finally became Really Simple Syndication – That constant blog companion, the RSS feed, celebrated its 10th anniversary in March this year. These days RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, but that wasn’t always the case. The meaning of RSS has changed a number of times since its initial inception in 1999, which is what we look at in this (quite recent) post.
  • A history of the dynamic Web – The ride to our Web 2.0 world of today has taken quite a while. It has been about 16 years since the first web page with dynamic content was created. This is a look at the history of the dynamic Web, especially the server-side programming languages and frameworks that make it all possible.
  • The origin of 9 popular Web buzzwords – You see them over and over again in blogs and news articles. Web buzzwords like The Cloud, Web 2.0, wiki, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, and so on. They have become part of our everyday vocabulary. Have you ever wondered who actually came up with these words, and when? Where did they first show up? That’s what this article tries to answer.

We hope you enjoyed these articles. 🙂 Thank you for reading.

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