HTML and the World Wide Web

HTML and the World Wide Web

By Oreoluwa Alebiosu, Jacob Martin, Lathan Mastellar, Joseph Mindrup, and David Tomlin

History of HTML

In the Beginning

Tim Berners-Lee, essentially the father of HTML, he worked at a European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva Switzerland, CERN you may have heard of CERN it’s the home of the famous Large Hadron Collider built from 1998 to 2008 . In this industry there is a lot of collaboration going on, Tim knew that without a new, improved form to collaborate the research would not peak at what everyone would like to see it at. He had an innovative idea to create a form of digital text format in which you could bounce from page to page from the click of a word on a page, essentially linking directly relevant text to other documents or research papers. Tim had made a prototype Hypertext system called “Enquire” in 1980.

Late 1980s: HyperCard

          In the late 1980’s Bill Atkinson came up with a system for mac called HyperCard. This allowed you to bounce to different information (on the same computer) based on the filing card idea. Although a large step there was yet the ability to do this with computers on a global scale. Luckily in the mid 80’s the Internet had a new system for naming computers Domain Names. This was huge because it was now simple to access a page with just simple code for example “”.

Early 1990s: Spreading HTML

          Tim’s new language “HTML” is based on a markup method; SGML. Using a formal way of writing a document as code. This made the language very user friendly with a small amount of work and a general knowledge of the subject matter. At this point in September of ’91 He started spreading the word through the internet as fast and efficient as possible, from which a electronic discussion group was formed where enthusiasts could exchange thoughts. Dave Raggett seemed to catch light of the subject, Dave realizing how big of an opportunity this is paid Tim a visit in 1992. At CERN where it all started, the two sat down and put a valiant effort into making something like HTML ready for the world, trying to make it more user accessible. Document based media like magazines among other text layouts where observed for a sort of base to the language, seeing as it was to be the most efficient way to publish the same documents online. After returning home Dave then went on to finish HTML+, a polished, more structurally sound HTML.

Late 1992: Others are Intrigued

While this was happening, Joseph Hardin and Dave Thompson of the National Center For Supercomputer Applications at the University of Illinois saw what Tim had been working on. They connected to the computer at CERN and downloaded copies of the free Web browsers. They quickly saw the significance of what they had come across, so NCSA decided to develop a web browser of their own called Mosaic.

December 1992: The Placement of the IMG

One of the programmers, Marc Andreessen, who worked on the Mosaic web browser, had an idea on how images should be inserted into HTML Documents. There were already many people discussing on the way that this should be implemented and even what it would be called. So Anderson came in on the discussion and introduced the idea for the IMG tag giving credit to the Mosaic team. Not everyone was very keen on the idea that she had presented but Anderson was persistent. The Mosaic team implemented the IMG tag on its browser and still remains to this day implemented in HTML.

1993: The Year of the Browsers

By 1993 many people had heard of what was happening with HTML and browsers. While the Mosaic team was working hard on developing their browser Dave Raggett of Hewlett-Packard Labs in Bristol began working on his Arena browser. His intention was to demonstrate all sorts of newly invented features for HTML with his new browser. Then in March Lou Montulli releases one of the first text-based browsers, the Lynx browser. He wanted to remain loyal to the idea of developing HTML as an open standard. Shortly after this in April The Mosaic team released their browser.

May 1994: First conference showing off HTML

Dave Raggett, the developer of the arena browser, had been working on various new HTML ideas which he called HTML+. He showed off his ideas at the conference and stated that his work should be carried forward to lead to the development of an even more advanced HTML, HTML 3. Dave Raggett was able to demonstrate various new abilities that he came up with using his new ideas. An HTML working group was set up shortly after that by the internet engineering task force.

The First draft of HTML3

Since he announced his work on HTML3 at the conference in May of 1994, Dave Raggett had been working at releasing the first copy of HTML3. In March of 1995 he formalized an Internet Draft for HTML3. The draft was very well received; most if not all browser writers were very keen on supporting HTML3. Dave Raggett continued work on his project.

1995 a Big Year for HTML

1995 was a big year in the development of HTML. In November the HTML working group was having a very difficult time keeping up with programming. Also the group was having a hard time coming to a consensus on a given HTML feature. Later in the month style sheets for HTML began taking shape. A group of people from the World Wide Web Consortium came up with and deployed the Cascading Style Sheets or CSS. They developed a new language to write for HTML. In December of that year The HTML working group was dismantled due to not being able come to agreements fast enough for the fast paced evolution of HTML.

HTML 3.2 and 4

In January of 1997 HTML 3.2 is finally ready for release. It had been reviewed by the major browser vendors. And in spring of 1998 HTML 4.0 is released.

Sample HTML

Common HTML Tags

<!DOCTYPE html>



<h1>My first heading</h1>                                      

<p>My first paragraph</p>



Explaining the Tags

The <!DOCTYPE> declaration must be the very first thing in your HTML5 document, before the <html> tag. The <!DOCTYPE> declaration is not an HTML tag; it is an instruction to the web browser about what version of HTML the page is written in. In HTML 4.01, all <!DOCTYPE> declarations require a reference to a DTD, because HTML 4.01 was based on SGML. HTML5 is not based on SGML, and therefore does not require a reference to a DTD. It is always necessary to add the <!DOCTYPE> declaration to your HTML documents, so that the browser knows what type of document to expect (“HTML Reference”). The <html> tag is used to indicate the formatting of the tags below are indeed of HTML and it is always necessary to add this tag. In addition, a closing tag “</html>” is required usually as the last tag in the document. In addition to the html tag the <body> tag indicates the document’s body. This tag incorporates all the other tags within the html tag. It contains the header, paragraphs, texts, lists etc. The header tag indicates the header and the paragraph tag is used to indicate a paragraph. Usually the paragraph tag can also contain tags used to edit texts written within the paragraph. Such as hyperlinks, lists etc. The code above indicates the most important tags which are often used in HTML.

Implementing HTML

HTML/CSS with Dreamweaver

Now that you have become accustomed to seeing HTML code made from scratch, we can start getting into programs that help you write it just in case that it proves difficult. A good example of that would be Adobe Dreamweaver. Adobe Dreamweaver is a program that assists a user in typing HTML code with text window prompts as code is being typed to help complete the line. As you get into Dreamweaver you will also be introduced to Cascading style sheets, or CSS. When designing a website with multiple pages, originally you would have to re-type the design set up in every single web page source code to make sure they are uniform. A Cascading style sheet changes that by applying a style to all pages that are associated with it. There is only one thing that I would caution you over if you decide to use a CSS, which is that the design typed in it has higher priority than the code typed on the web page source page. Although it is possible to make a web page differ from the CSS style of the other web pages, the altered design traits of that web page must not be defined by the CSS, because the CSS code will over rule it. For example, if you have the body color of the page defined in the CSS as defaulted to blue, all web pages associated with it will have the body color defined as blue. If you want a certain web page to have the body color defined as red, you are going to have to make some adjustments in your code to make it not conflict with the CSS. Now with that piece of information established, let’s look at some specific examples of code.

Example Code

In CSS, you will see code exactly the same as the design code you would put at the top of the source code page.

body {

          background-color: #FC6;

          color: #039;

          font: Comic Sans MS;

          font-size: 14pt;


    This body code would set the background color of the body to #FC6, the text color to #039, the font type to Comic Sans MS and the font size to 14 points. This means that so long as it is inside the body tag and the body tag alone, it must adhere to this definition. The way to get around that is to put the code between another tag set. For example:

h3 {

          background-color: #39f;

          border-bottom-color: #003;

          border-bottom-width: thin;

          border-bottom-style: solid;

          text-align: center;

          margin: 35px;


    This now defines that code as being defined strictly by the h3 tag set. Inside it, the background color has been redefined as #39f inside the CSS or in the source code if defined uniquely inside the web page. If it was defined in the CSS then all h3 tag sets will strictly be bound by these rules. If defined by the web page source code, then another web page can be defined with different characteristics for h3.

Key Points

As you bring your HTML/CSS code together, eventually it will start looking like an official web site with half the coding that it would originally take you to make it. This is done by default by Dreamweaver reading the CSS code and applying the design code automatically. In the end, that is the function of the CSS; it gives Dreamweaver a set of instructions when creating a web page associated with that style sheet. This feature is not strictly used by Dreamweaver alone. Just make sure that when creating a style sheet, save it with “.css” at the end. This lets directories know that it is a style sheet, not just a document of text or a website.

History of World Wide Web

What is the “Web”?

The World Wide Web (or “Web” as we will refer to it) is an enormous collection of information and media shared by users all over the world who are connected through the Internet. Do not confuse the Web with the Internet, which is a common mistake. The Web is only a service, like a social network, that takes place over the Internet. Its history doesn’t date back too far (compared to the Internet) but is an interesting story, because at the time, the idea was almost thrown out the window.

Tim Burners-Lee

          In the year 1980, a man named Tim Berners-Lee, in Switzerland working for The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), had built a software project called ENQUIRE, that was designed to have similar functions as the Web. The only problem with ENQUIRE was that he was the only major user of his system. A system that could be used by everybody was needed to spread his idea. This idea was to allow people to make documents that had links to other documents, and that one document could be updated without having to update the other. Another problem with ENQUIRE was that it lacked the ability to communicate with a database. The need for an easy to use system was needed but not necessarily in high demand. Berners-Lee had left CERN only to return four years later. He slowly continued pressing into his idea. The visualization he had was to make information sharable all over the world, without common presentation software. It was not until 1989 that Berners-Lee wrote his suggestion for a single, global hypertext system with links from page to page. Although it sounds like a great idea to us, because we now know of the benefits, at the time, the idea was brushed off and got next to no attention. Nevertheless, Berners-Lee began creating his vision, eventually settling on the name “World Wide Web”.


          Finding businessmen to invest in Berners-Lee’s ideas proved to be more of a challenge than anticipated. Even when Robert Cailliau rewrote the idea, the European Conference on Hypertext Technology gave it no interest. Even in spite of this rejection, Berners-Lee pressed on, building the tools he found essential for building the Web. These tools included the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) 0.9, the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), the first Web browser (named WorldWideWeb), the first HTTP server software, the first web server, and even the first Web pages, which described the idea behind the Web. Talk about sticking with it! However, there still remained one problem:  the browser Burners-Lee had designed would only run on the NeXT workstation available through CERN. A woman named Nicola Pellow created a browser called the Line Mode Browser. This browser was a very plain, simple one but was able to run on the majority of computers. The vision was finally becoming a reality. After more development and further processing, Burners-Lee decided to release his idea for public use. It was on August 6, 1991, when he listed a briefing of the World Wide Web project he created on the alt.hypertext newsgroup.

Spreading the Idea

          Now that the Web had been invited and published, it needed to spread. Paul Kunz, who was with the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), took a great deal of interest in the Web upon a visit to CERN. Kunz obtained a copy of the software and brought it back with him. He used the software for a method of displaying SLAC’s catalog of online documents.  The Web had finally spread to somewhere other than Europe and could now journey throughout the US. The early users of the Web kept its use very plain, to organize documents and link them to one another. But others began seeing the Web as something that could be used as a much more powerful tool. It was noted that the Web could be used to display pictures, graphics, sounds, animations, etc. The only problem was that a browser capable of handling these types of media had not yet been created. In April 1992, an application called Erwise was released, marking it to be the first graphical browser available. Unfortunately, modem speeds were extremely slow compared to the ones we have today and pages with pictures or other large amounts of data took too much time to load. Although Erwise was the first graphical browser, it never took off in populariy.

The Release

          The first defining moment for the Web came with the invention of a web browser called Mosaic. Invented in 1993, Mosaic was the first browser to really spread popularity of the Web. Again, the biggest limitation was loading time; however, by the end of 1994, the number of copies of browsers exceeded one million, with Mosaic being the most popular by far. Then in 1994, Berners-Lee again contributed to his invention of the Web by founding the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The W3C created standards for and ideas to improve the Web. In order for people to easily conform to these ideas, Berners-Lee made the Web openly available to all, with no payment of royalties or patent. With the Web now being 100% free, it took off even higher numbers of users, and by the mid 1990s, many businesses began making their own websites. Free public publicity contributed to the success of many businesses. It even allowed for a Web-based commerce, displaying products on pages linked to the main page through hypertext. It was during this mid 90s boom that many of today’s large Web-based businesses were started, such as Amazon and Google. With all these businesses making websites, it marked the beginning of an era, the Internet era. The Web grew rapidly through the late 90s, by over 2000%, and there were approximately 750,000 commercial websites by 1998. But where some succeeded, others failed. Many companies went under after the turn of the millennium, but those who survived made fortunes.

The Web Today

          In the early 2000s, the potential of the Web was finally beginning to be utilized. Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook were created; blogging sites began taking off and video viewing sites such as YouTube were made. The number of sites and users expanded even farther. The impacts from the Web have become nearly endless. Burners-Lee’s invention had surpassed even his own expectations. Could you imagine the world today had the Web not been invented?

Works Cited


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"2 - A History of HTML." Chapter 2. N.p. Web. 01 Oct. 2012. <>.