How the Web was Born: The Story of the World Wide Web

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9780192862075: How the Web was Born: The Story of the World Wide Web

In 1994, a computer program called the Mosaic browser transformed the Internet from an academic tool into a telecommunications revolution. Now a household name, the World Wide Web is a prominent fixture in the modern communications landscape, with tens of thousands of servers providing information to millions of users. Few people, however, realize that the Web was born at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, and that it was invented by an Englishman, Tim Berners-Lee.
Offering its readers an unprecedented "insider's" perspective, this new book was co-written by two CERN employees--one of whom, Robert Cailliau, was among the Web's pioneers. It tells how the idea for the Web came about at CERN, how it was developed, and how it was eventually handed over at no charge for the rest of the world to use. The first book-length account of the Web's development, How the Web was Born draws upon several interviews with the key players in this amazing story. This compelling and highly topical book is certain to interest all general readers with a taste for the Web or the Internet, as well as students and teachers of computing, technology, and applied science.

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Review:

It's hard to believe that there was a time--not long ago--when the digital fairyland of commerce, soapboxing, and pornography called the World Wide Web was just a file-sharing tool for nerds, but there's a first time for everything. How the Web Was Born, by CERN's James Gillies and Robert Cailliau, follows the trail from the dawn of ARPANet through the mid-90s, just as the Web boom was beginning to take off in earnest. That may seem like an odd ending point, but the post-1995 story has already been told ad nauseam, and the writers know how to quit while they're ahead. The story is told from widely varying viewpoints and across shifting timelines as the various players are introduced and observed; this adds some complexity to the narrative, but yields a truer picture of the team efforts required to devise and launch the Web. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Marc Andreesen, Tim Berners-Lee (of course), and many more, figure prominently in the interwoven tales, and are briefly summarized in an abridged cast list at the end of the book, along with a paper and electronic bibliography. The book assumes some knowledge and interest on the part of the reader and saves its big-picture context for the end, but provides reader motivation both by its subject's inherent interest and the recurrent personalization of the story. Neither textbook nor CERN propaganda, How the Web Was Born offers an engagingly networked collection of characters that, like their invention, creates something larger than the sum of its parts. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:


Robert Cailliau is Head of the Web office at CERN. James Gillies is a professional science writer at CERN.

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