Tech Week Ahead: Happy Birthday World Wide Web

All Things Considered host Audie Cornish talks to NPR's Steve Henn about the World Wide Web's birthday.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish and it's time now for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SONG, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY")

CORNISH: Today is the World Wide Web's 21st birthday of the World Wide Web. Yes, the Web is now fully legal. And here to help us raise a glass is NPR's Steve Henn.

Hey there, Steve.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: Hi.

CORNISH: So, this isn't the Internet's birthday, right? This is a little different?

HENN: That's right. The Internet is older than the World Wide Web. The Internet let's computers connect and ship data to each other. Or actually, networks connect. It's like the Web's big brother and it began in the late '60s. The Web was born in 1991 when Tim Berners-Lee created three technologies: URL's, HTML and HTTP. And these made it easier to share information across all those connected computer systems.

CORNISH: We actually just heard this name recently at the London Olympics opening ceremony, right. they had Sir Tim Berners-Lee on stage, I think. But help me sort out this alphabet soup of acronyms .

HENN: OK, So, URLs provided the Web site addresses. HTML is really the language Web sites speak. And HTTP is the protocol - it's the grammar or the rules that sites use to communicate. So the Web began as a way for high energy physicists to share data. But back on August 6, 1991 Berners-Lee wrote: We're very interested in spreading the Web to other areas.

CORNISH: And it turned out that worked pretty well, right?.

HENN: Yeah, no kidding. Now we can use it to buy shoes, post cat videos. And it's a standard grammar that allows people to publish document online cheaply. And if you think about it, the Web has really transformed how information is collected and shared globally.

CORNISH: Now before we go, Steve, I hear it's your birthday today too, right?

HENN: Yes, that's right. I'm turning 40.

(LAUGHTER)

HENN: But, you know, considering everything the Web has accomplished in just 21 years, this makes me feel like a total slacker.

(LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: OK. Steve, thanks so much. Happy Birthday.

HENN: Thank you.

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