Not So High-Tech Anymore: The First Website Ever Celebrates Its 20th Birthday

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The first website ever launched went live on August 6, 1991.

On August 6, 1991, the first website was launched on the Internet, forever changing the way we browse. (And thankfully, web design has improved just a bit in the past two decades.)

We here at NewsFeed think it’s important to respect our roots. And today happens to be a milestone in our history.

It’s like we’re celebrating the 20th birthday of our great-great-great-… -great-grandfather: the modern website. You see, we (and all of our newsy brethren to say the least) essentially wouldn’t exist had it not been for the work of Tim Berners-Lee. Then a contractor at CERN, the European nuclear research organization, Berners-Lee had access to the largest Internet node on the continent.

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The World Wide Web has become synonymous with “the Internet” in recent years, but the Internet actually predated Berners-Lee’s invention. While the Internet allowed computers to talk to each other, the World Wide Web was dreamt up as the way to browse between them and access various information sources. Berners-Lee is credited with the invention of the World Wide Web system – which, indeed, is the primary function of the Internet that most of us use on a daily basis.

See Odd Todd sounding off about the birth of the World Wide Web.

The system celebrating its 20th birthday today allows us Internet users to easily browse between websites using hyperlinks. If you type in, let’s say, in your address bar – bam, the World Wide Web kicks in to connect that address to TIME’s servers. Click a link to a story, and it’s because of the Web that the page loads and renders properly.

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The first website was hosted on the web server and was a simple text page containing exactly what the World Wide Web was for: a bunch of links. And of course, in the interest of paying it forward (and because the Web can’t work without other sites to link to), the first website included instructions for making your own website.

All jargon aside, we’re pleased the Web has come so far in the past two decades. Can you imagine if websites still looked like that? We fear you wouldn’t be browsing NewsFeed because of sheer boredom from the design.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

MORE: Europe and the Info Age, by Tim Berners-Lee