Nowadays internet is such a big part of our lives that it is hard to imagine a life without it. We use it to follow our friends, share our thoughts and experiences, search for information, we play games, communicate, watch TV, listen to music, control things and so much more.
What we call the internet is basically a combination of technologies. Let’s look at the history and role of some of these building blocks that, together, became ‘the internet’.
The rise of the internet
It has been said that Nicolas Tesla predicted the internet in 1900 already. It took another 50 years before it started to materialize. The internet evolved over time, starting in the 50’s with the use of the first computers, through the 60’s and 70’s, during which computer networks matured. First computers were connected into a single network and later they started to connect these local networks into a global, worldwide network of connected networks. A protocol for transporting data (TCP/IP) over these networks was also developed.
In the 80’s we had globally connected networks and data could be shared over them, but is was still mainly the playground of scientists and the military.
It was in 1989 that the English scientist Tim Berners-Lee came up with the concept of URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) to link documents and other resources over the internet. In addition to this he developed HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). The main purpose of this HTML was to structure and present content. With HTML it was also possible to link one document to another by using hyperlinks. In 1990 he wrote the first web browser and web server. The web server was connected to the internet and served its HTML-content to users anywhere in the world. These users used the web browser to translate the HTML into a human-readable format.
The World Wide Web (and with it the information age) was born and HTML was its first serious language.
Example of an HTML document:
<h1>I am a heading and will be bold and big</h1>
<p>I am data in a paragraph.</p>
<a href="http://www.linktosomewhere.com/">I am a hyperlink</a>
The power of HTML is its ability to structure content so that web browsers like Google Chrome or Internet Explorer understand how to display it. It has some possibilities for styling, like adding color or making text bold, but these possibilities are limited. When the internet became more popular developers wanted a way to have more control over the look and feel of their content. Out of this desire arose CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) as the winning stylesheet language. CSS was first proposed by Håkon Wium Lie on October 10, 1994. Although not perfect, CSS offered more styling and layout options to developers.
Example of a CSS-declaration:
border: 1px solid orange;
Result of this rule:
alert("I am a popup with a message and an OK button")
A working example of the alert: