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The Boston Globe

Ideas

A baby picture of the Web

Two decades later, a look at the page that started it all

Last month, the European physics lab CERN posted a curious document online: a simple, text-based file from 21 years ago that was, for all intents and purposes, the first page of the World Wide Web.

Despite its expansive name, the Web was started with relatively modest goals. When Tim Berners-Lee first connected his prototype browser to his prototype server in 1990, he was a researcher at CERN building a tool to help physicists share information. Just 20 lines long, with a handful of links, his pioneering page was an explanation of the Web itself, providing technical details, how-tos, and credits.

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