One of the world’s most important inventions is celebrating its 30th birthday. Read the article to find out what it is. 

If you’re reading this, you’re using a piece of technology that’s celebrating its 30th birthday. It’s an invention that changed the world, but which invention do you think we’re talking about? The internet? The World Wide Web? If you thought they were both the same thing, then keep reading …

The internet vs. the World Wide Web

The internet and the web are not exactly the same thing, then? No, actually. The internet has been around since the early 1970s – twenty years longer than the web. It is basically a huge network made up of smaller networks of computers. The World Wide Web is built on top of the internet. It’s a way of sharing information in the form of webpages, using a kind of computer language called HTTP. That’s why URLs often start http://www – because http is the language and www means World Wide Web. By the way, no one knows why web addresses use //. Even the web’s inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, says these ‘forward slashes’ are not really necessary and if he could go back in time thirty years and invent the World Wide Web again, he would take them out.

The beginning of the World Wide Web

In 1989, when British scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, he was working at CERN in Switzerland. They had computers, of course, and email already existed (Queen Elizabeth II sent an email in 1976). The idea of domain names – web addresses showing the name of the organisation they belong to (like ‘britishcouncil.org’) – also existed. They used hypertext to jump from one document to another, but none of these things worked together so they weren’t very useful.

Berners-Lee was frustrated at CERN because all the scientists had different kinds of computers that couldn’t ‘speak’ to each other. If you wanted information you had to remember exactly which computer that information was on and know how to use the specific programs for that computer. Berners-Lee had an idea for an ‘imaginary information system which everyone can read’. He wrote a report that suggested a way of putting the internet, domain names and hypertext together into one system. His idea was so abstract that his boss called it ‘vague but exciting’. Two years later, in 1991, the world’s first website was built at CERN, http://info.cern.ch (the site you can see now is a copy made in 1992).

The digital divide

Today, thirty years later, that idea is no longer vague and is part of many people’s everyday reality. The web connects about 55 per cent of the world’s population to the rest of the world via the internet. But because only half the world is connected, there is a ‘digital divide’ between communities with regular internet access and those without. In North America, 95 per cent of people have internet access and so do 85 per cent of Europeans. Compare this with Asia, where only half the population has internet access, and Africa, at 36 per cent. In some of the least developed countries, young people are three times more likely to be online than older adults.

The United Nations says the world’s least developed countries will have universal internet access by 2020. They expect to achieve this with the help of low-cost mobile phone services which include internet. This is the key to ending the digital divide. When the web is available to everyone, just like Tim Berners-Lee imagined, people everywhere can enjoy the social, educational and economic advantages it brings.

This article is part of Anyone//Anywhere: the web at 30, a year-long programme of projects and partnerships looking at the impact of the World Wide Web on our lives. Find out more here: https://www.britishcouncil.org/anyone-anywhere

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Discussion

What has the World Wide Web helped you do today?

Comments

Andrii's picture
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Andrii 6 December, 2019 - 21:44

The World Wide Web has helped me today to learn about itself. I didn't even know that the Internet and the WWW aren't the same.

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kimphuc21's picture
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kimphuc21 28 November, 2019 - 04:17

Internet helps connect friends around the world quickly through services such as chat, email, social networks ... Everyone can chat, exchange information together , experience on forums, sharing information, emotions ... on blogs. As a result, the gap narrows, people become closer, more friendly and can make friends with more people, especially with foreigners.

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sang0110's picture
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sang0110 26 November, 2019 - 13:44

This article gave me useful informations about web. I use the internet almost everyday but not actually know who made it. I'm interesting in history of those technology

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Kimkhanh305 26 November, 2019 - 08:10

www helps me a lot in studying. I can accumulate the world's precious knowledge thanks to the information that a wide range of webpages is sharing. WWW does a fantastic job in connecting people all over the world!

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yennhi2k0's picture
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yennhi2k0 24 November, 2019 - 15:55

I can not agree with the author of this article more. The WWW help me everything. I use it every day to search information, learning and entertaining. WWW is very convenient to me for studying, make friends all over the world. Actually, WWW is a great invention for human. Thank you WWW a lot! Thanks to the person who invented WWW!
I hope the WWW more development, more popular for countries around the world by utilities that it has brought to human life.

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LinhNguyen_2208 17 November, 2019 - 15:19

I use WWW everyday to search information about learning or entertaining. WWW is very convenient to my studying. Besides, I can make friends and communicate with other people from another countries, especially foreigners from the USA,the UK, Europe... in order to improve my English skills. Thanks WWW a lot!!!

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haahaa0912 17 November, 2019 - 09:39

Nobody else can deny the number of advantages of The World Wide Web which relates to our lives everyday. It helps us in many aspects: improving teaching and studying, increasing productive results in agriculture, also accomplishing hospital equipments.

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Ngocthao60nna10 15 November, 2019 - 05:00

World wide web is really useful, because it makes searching for information quite easy, it's an endless source of knowledge that is essential for everyone, we can listen to music, read newspapers, communicate with everyone. In my opinion, world wide web is indispensable in this modern life

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AyuNguyen's picture
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AyuNguyen 10 November, 2019 - 12:47

Tim is truly a brilliant scientist. His invention has made people's lives so much easier than before: getting information more easily, sharing their work and thoughts through social networking sites, blogs and video sharing, and connecting with their family and their friends when they are apart.
For me, everyday, I use www to search for the information I need, especially for learning. And thanks to the information I found on it, my life skills and soft skills increased. My friend and I can keep contact with each other even though we're halfway around the world. I can also pay some bills without going to those locations,...etc. There is so much convenience that www gives me.

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odg9267 1 November, 2019 - 14:59

Whenever I need some information, I go to the Internet, which became much convenient with WWW. It is the thing that is crucial. With that, I read and listen to the latest news even without any TV or newspaper, watch a video, find what I want, talk with friends, etc. It became normal nowadays but we should be thankful to them.
But we do have to think about the digital divide. The Internet gives us more opportunities, which means in some countries they may have a lack of opportunity which is to communicate with the internet. Of course, hopefully, there are a lot of people trying to resolve this, and those seem to be working. But clearly, it is a problem to be solved.

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Hiep 28 October, 2019 - 14:05

I use WWW every day to search for information about learning and entertainment. Thanks to WWW, my study and life became more convenient. I think WWW will make the development, modern and complete for countries around the world by the utilities that it has brought to human life.

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Trucnguyencute 26 October, 2019 - 04:37

The world wide web is really very helpful.It helps me find the information i need , watch the news , entertain, interact with friends abroad. It also serves a lot in my studies. It was truly amazing !

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kimthao_60nna2's picture
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kimthao_60nna2 25 October, 2019 - 17:48

Www is a great invention and it is useful for me. It helps me a lot. Thank to it, I can search information or anything eles that I need. Even, I can learn everything, listen to music, watch video clips, chat with my friend whenever I want. Espeacially, www makes communication between people easier.

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Scorpio's picture
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Scorpio 24 October, 2019 - 09:10

Since World Wide Wed have been invented and applycated in our life, it connected the world in a way that was not possible before and made it much easier for people and me to get information, share and communicate together, i'm not only can keep contact with my family, my friends... But i can also save money that needn't buy card telephone to call or message. And the other hands, WWW allowed me to share my work, my study and my hobbies and thoughts through social networking sites, blogs and video sharing. I can listen to music, watch entertainment programmes and study pieces of knowledges, improve necessary skills and tips in my life. Www is so an important thing that for me, i can't lack it.

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kieunguyen_1076's picture
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kieunguyen_1076 24 October, 2019 - 08:43

The internet has become an essential part in our daily life. It is a big procession of human beings and thanks to this invention, the world has been developing so far. It hepls us a lot in terms of searching information, world's news, communication, ..ect.. To be honest, the World Wide Web solved the complicated problem during that time. Computer language HTTP and domain system developed by Tim help us to using the internet more easily.

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Scorpio's picture
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Scorpio 24 October, 2019 - 07:33

Since World Wide Wed have been invented and applycated in our life, it connected the world in a way that was not possible before and made it much easier for people and me to get information, share and communicate together, i'm not only can keep contact with my family, my friends... But i can also save money that needn't buy card telephone to call or message. And the other hands, WWW allowed me to share my work, my study and my hobbies and thoughts through social networking sites, blogs and video sharing. I can listen to music, watch entertainment programmes and study pieces of knowledges, improve necessary skills and tips in my life. Www is so an important thing that for me, i can't lack it.

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havy230819's picture
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havy230819 23 October, 2019 - 15:58

I think the world wide web is one of the greatest inventions of mankind. It's hard to list everything that www can do, a global network that's amazingly fast. Thanks to the world wide web, I can access any website easily, not only looking for the information I need for workouts but also many other things like entertainment, health, news ... The world wide web is really a multipurpose tool and each of us should know how to be a smart user.

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nhinhiho's picture
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nhinhiho 13 October, 2019 - 02:56

In my life, the WWW is very necessary. It has helped me connect with my family and my friend. I can search all the information that i need on the WWW. And thanks to the WWW, i can relieve stress after school by playing games, listening to music and talking to friends. Of course, it makes people's life easier. Thank to the person who invented WWW

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minhthuy's picture
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minhthuy 10 October, 2019 - 06:49

Everyday i always use www for my study and entertainment . I feel so comfortable when i use it , it can help me connect with friends all over the world . It actually do a lot of things that i can't . Although WWW is popular , many people don't know how to use it . I hope in 2020 the world would be more develop . So every action can be took place easily .

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Hoangtien301's picture
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Hoangtien301 7 October, 2019 - 11:14

WWW is so convenient that you can search everything which you want as literature, geography, human civilization.. It is a wonderful invention

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nguyenthao0808's picture
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nguyenthao0808 6 October, 2019 - 04:01

WWW is really a great invention, it makes communication between people becomes easier. I could learn better thanks to WWW. Searching information, listening to music after class, chatting with friends, playing games ... I vote for WWW 5 stars.

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Phuongduyen's picture
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Phuongduyen 1 October, 2019 - 18:16

The World Wide Web is useful for my life. It has helped me a lot. Thank to WWW, I can find information that I need, learn more about cultures, events in the world.
The most important, I think the WWW can help for development of poor countries. It helps them shorten the distance about society, economy and keep up with other countries in the world.

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empty's picture
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empty 3 April, 2019 - 12:56

wowwww. That was a long reading. It took a quarter for me to read it all and do the exsersices .

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SLMT's picture
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SLMT 27 February, 2019 - 08:19

It has helped me a lot. Nowadays we can easily search whatever we want.They are very effective,useful and priceless.I can’t think about my life without WWW.If Tim Bernese Lee didn’t invite WWW,how can we survive in this world :D

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Youjiro's picture
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Youjiro 18 February, 2019 - 13:55

This article shows history of world wide wed and internet. I'm really interesting in those two technology.Tim developed most important things in computer science http and domain system. those two things gives us content on internet, We can see a lot of web pages easily. Tim say forward slash is not necessary but I think forward slash is nice idea because forward slash divided domain name ,It is easy to read URL. usage of forward slash is common in computer science nowadays .This article shows another topic The digital divide.Internet is common but some poor country is not common such as Africa,south east and Asia. Poor country have not big provider company it mean internet environment is very poor.That is why poor country are low rate.

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