It's hard to imagine the web before it was taken over by complex designs, intricate animations, and overbearing advertisements. But the folks at CERN have celebrated 30 years of web development by rebuilding the WorldWideWeb application that debuted in 1990. Now everyone can see what "the web" was like at its inception.
The rebuilt WorldWideWeb can be found on CERN's website. It features an inside peek at the app's code, instructions for using the recreated browser, and historical information about its development. CERN linked to other resources about the web's history as well, just in case the WorldWideWeb piques interest.
This recreation is an obvious anachronism. There are no tabs, no multicolored links, and no auto-playing videos just waiting to deafen unsuspecting people. CERN also had to remind people that opening links requires a double-click instead of the single-click to which so many of us have grown accustomed in recent years.
Much of WorldWideWeb's available information also centers on NeXT devices, which pretty much went the way of the dodo after Steve Jobs rejoined Apple. There's also a reference to something called the "Yellow Pages" that's described as "a keyword index to the CERN telephone book." What kind of throwback nonsense is this?
Jokes aside, there's something to be said for WorldWideWeb's simple interface. Much of the web as we know it today has actually become so frustrating to read that entire services, like Pocket and Instapaper, have been built on top of simple text-focused interfaces like the one that appears in this 30-year-old app.
We've started to see a bit of pushback against the modern web's distractions. (At least when it doesn't threaten a browser maker's bottom line.) Hopefully, this reminder of the web as it was originally envisioned--WorldWide and all--will inspire more efforts to make browsing a little bit simpler again.
Just don't make us double-click on links. It's not 1989.
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