Essay: History of Web Design Industry

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The ability to surf the World Wide Web is a beautiful thing, and it began in the hands of the history of the web design industry. People from across continents, from all cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs can connect and keep up to date with friends and news abroad. Though it only began in the early 80s, it has certainly become a booming destination.

But before we can really start to understand the web design industry, we have to delineate the difference between the internet and the World Wide Web. Sure, people use the terms interchangeably, but that doesn’t make it correct. In fact, the internet is simply a grouping of gigantic computer networks that allow other computers to make global connections.

The internet consists of varied languages that enable these computers to communicate with one another. They are the bridges that allow information to travel, and they are best referred to as protocols. Email protocols include things like: IMAP, SMTP, and POP3. That makes email a layer of the internet just as much as the World Wide Web is a layer. It just uses different protocols:

  • URLs (Uniform Resource Locator)- These are the final parts of the web’s puzzle. URLs provide the addresses to the location of documents that reside on the web.
  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)- HTML is a language that designers utilize to create their web pages.
  • HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)- HTTP is the most commonly used protocol, though FTP gets used as well. The HTML protocol is specifically designed for the World Wide Web. It is relatively quick and simplistic, which makes it a favorite for industry professionals. It works to request documents from their servers in order to give the browsers access.

So Where did it All Begin?

You might be shocked to discover that the concept for the World Wide Web may have originated in a short story penned by Murray Leinster, as far back as 1946. His short story describes computers with access to a central device that provided them with information. These computers resided in all homes, according to his short story. They were called, Logics. Although his description is not completely accurate, it does convey the idea that these computers were networked and readily accessible to the populace.

It took another 40 years for the true vision to be executed by an Englishman named Tim Berners Lee. He was working on the Enquire project. There was nothing whizz bang about his task, it was simply a database that contained software and people within the company he worked for. But, it was because of this project that he tried out hypertext to be displayed on other devices that utilize it. He employed the hypertext as a means of accessing each page on the database. This, in turn, granted access to other relevant pages through references within the system.

Interestingly enough, Berners Lee was not a computer programmer. Rather, he was a physicist. But, it was his need to share his discoveries and findings within that community that catapulted his dream to create a centralized database. This was in 1989. Sadly, no one else seemed to care about his idea. That is, except for his boss. He was encouraged to implement the idea into the next project. Eventually, it became known as the World Wide Web, and Tim Berners Lee is credited with its invention.

The Beginning of Browsers

Tim Berners Lee did not give up. In fact, he teamed up with Robert Cailliau, another physicist and they rewrote Tim’s initial proposal. They wanted to be able to use hypertext alongside the internet to create what we now know as “web pages.” Unfortunately, no one in the early 90s had any idea how brilliant this idea was.

But, even though Tim saw little appreciation for his idea, he pressed on. He created HTTP, HTML, and the first browser ever in existence. It worked as an editor as well. And, by June 8th of 1991, he announced his World Wide Web project to the globe. A few months later, the first web page appeared. It became the world’s first website. It shared all Tim’s plans for the web. HTML was made available that same year.

Then the browser scene exploded with improvements and differing functionalities. Some of those beginning browsers were:

  • Mosaic Browser
  • Viola WWW Browser
  • Line Mode Browser
  • Opera 1.0
  • Internet Explorer 1.0
  • Netscape Navigator 1.1
  • Cello Browser

Say Hello to CSS and JavaScript

Initially, text documents were all you found on a website. Of course today, they are so much more. What makes the difference is the introduction of CSS and JavaScript. August of 1995 is marked as the birthplace of JavaScript, though it was originally called Mocha. There were a number of people that did not like this code, including Cailliau. But, it helped make the web more interactive and dynamic.

JavaScript enabled websites to think, but CSS changed the look and style of the entire web. Though stylesheets have been around since the early 80s, cascading style sheets (CSS) created a consistency of style. They created the ability to separate the HTML content from the actual style or layout of that content. However, it wasn’t until 2000, that CSS was almost fully supported by browsers.

Booming Dot Com’s

Over a five year span of time, between 1995 and 2000, some investors realized it might be a good idea to focus on the web. They started investing money in all web related developments. And, companies that could be found online started making more money.

People called this the internet boom. Sadly, that boom didn’t last. And, many of these investors lost a good deal of money having invested only in technology and not actual business fundamentals.However, there are some businesses that did not feel the brunt of that crash. These entities survived the dot com bubble:

  • Ebay
  • Amazon
  • Google

And Social Networks Begin

The social network design was initially referred to as a bulletin board system (BBS). It allowed users to login and do stuff. They could upload and download information. They could read things and exchange messages with other members. Or, they could utilize various chat and messaging options.

The birth of the social network became one of the biggest races for online supremacy. AOL was one of the first internet companies to offer resources like we find on today’s social network platforms.

Obviously, much has improved and changed since the: “You’ve got mail!” phenomenon. Certainly we will continue to see growth in this arena. And, the history of the web design industry will continue.

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