Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web, first proposed on March 11th, 1989, by Tim Berners-Lee.
While today we use the words “internet” and “web” interchangeably, they actually refer to different things. The internet is the global network of computers that are able to communicate with one another and dates back to the US military’s ARPANET developed in the 60s. The web, meanwhile, is the public’s main way of accessing this network, and was proposed by Berners-Lee in the late 80s.
The technology is complex, but Tim Berners-Lee’s genius was in creating a streamlined system that would allow people to easily navigate this network. The web is a complex series of URLs, linked by HTTP and formatted in HTML, but its abstract design makes it as simple to access as a series of interlinked webpages. The simplicity of this system was what allowed the general public (not just scientists and engineers) to make use of this vast, complex network.
Today’s Doodle depicts a charmingly optimistic vision of the web; a beige computer slowly downloading a slowly-loading video of a rotating globe. It harkens back to a day when cutting edge internet access was defined by an NCSA Mosaic browser and a blazingly fast 19.2k modem. It’s almost unrecognizable from the web we know today, which is overwhelmingly accessed by smartphones, but its vision remains the same — the free exchange of information and ideas around the globe.