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23 August 1991: The world's first public website goes live

Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web.
Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web. / CERN
  • The site, http://info.cern.ch, gave internet users basic information on how to use the web, and was the first of more than 130 trillion pages today

On 23 August 1991, Tim Berners-Lee, famously the inventor of the World Wide Web, opened the very first website to the public. It was the first time a web page was accessible to the whole world.

Developed in Switzerland, the professor was in charge of establishing, for the first time, communication between client and server using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), which at its most basic level forms the basis for how web pages are communicated from the web server to the user's browser.

Despite doubts around the official date of the internet's launch, CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) recognises 23 August, at the very least, as a day of celebration of the internet.

As the web was originally invented as a information-sharing tool for universities and institutions around the world, the first page was actually created on 6 August, but only available for members of the CERN. Still found today at http://info.cern.ch, almost thirty years after its creation, the first ever public web page gave users basic instructions on how the web worked, including how to access documents, set up their own server and a Frequently Asked Questions page.

Over the past thirty years, the internet has grown to become one of the most important and significant inventions of our society, enabling everyday citizens to connect with the rest of the world, share data and find information at the drop of a hat.

A 2017 survey by Nominalia found that more than 31 million people in Spain connect daily to the internet, with 40 per cent spending more than three hours on it each day and 14 per cent spending more than five hours a day online. According to data carried out by the AIMC (Association for the Investigation of Social Media), 45 per cent of Spaniards said they could not live without the internet.

The current global leader in terms of web page visits is unsurprisingly Google which on average receives over 40,000 searches a second, followed by fellow internet giants YouTube and Facebook in second and third place, respectively.

In an age where the internet dominates society, and it is increasingly difficult to decipher truth from fiction online with the growth of so-called fake news, it is hard to imagine Berners-Lee ever envisioning his tiny web page being the start of the internet we know today, and the first of more than 130 trillion individual web pages that are now in existence.