CERN recreated the original WorldWideWeb browser for you to try out

Image: CERN

The birthplace of the modern internet is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, when engineers proposed the first HyperText browser in March 1989. To commemorate the anniversary, a group of CERN developers have recreated that original browser interface (via Engadget), allowing users to see what the internet was like at the very beginning.

30 years ago next month, engineers at CERN issued a proposal for a new program to help with managing information within the organization called “Information Management: A Proposal.” After some revisions, the proposal laid out the framework for a program that would provide an interface to the user to present information, utilizing links to allow users to browse the information systems at the organization. CERN engineer Tim Berners-Lee developed the system on a NeXT computer, which he called WorldWideWeb, which became the forerunner to the modern internet.

With the birthday of that original proposal coming up in March, CERN’s developers put together a sort of museum-like website to show off the origins of that original internet, with pages outlining the browser, coding, history, timeline, typography, and how they reproduced the original site. It’s an intriguing bit of internet history, showing off the origins of many of the elements that we take for granted in 2019, like hyperlinks.

Included in all of that is the original browser, which allows you to navigate through the site. Not everything works — a number of sections are effectively dead ends, but it’s fascinating to double click through user guides, lists of Newsgroups discussing everything from “Life in the Caribbean” to computers, comic books, books, erotica, science fiction, the Star Wars films, science, business, job listings and quite a bit more. My takeaway from this was that while the internet looks vastly different on its surface, it hasn’t changed so much that it’s unrecognizable: people use the internet to talk about many of the same things as they did three decades ago.


I tried to open the news on my 2011 Nokia N9 today and the rendering was all over the place…

Oh, I can’t even imagine. I have a still-functional low-end LG Android 4.0.4 phone from 2013 I recently tried to use when my Galaxy’s screen got smashed, and even using that thing is painful. I made the mistake of trying to install GBoard as my input device, and every time the keyboard came up the whole phone froze for like 5-6 seconds. Current Chrome was similarly unusable, and the stock Browser app made the web look like somebody’s ransom note.

NetSurf is better. JavaScript will never take off. It’s the best browser for the Pi Zero

I’m old enough to remember NCSA Mosaic, before Netscape Navigator came around to save us from its horrors. I can’t imagine having any nostalgia for layout with TABLEs, BLINK, or the unstyled web pre-CSS. And this nonsense predates even that dark period. No thank you.

Though, this did take me back in a different way. ’Member how much Motif suuuucked?

Spoiler alert:
Nothing is going to load right. Modern sites are done with a lot of CSS which isn’t supported.

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