World Wide Web Turns 25: How the Press Reacted to WWW
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25 years ago today World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee made his invention public, the first major step towards connecting the world online. Known as the internaut’s day, without this momentous event on August 23, 1991, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience the internet as we do so today. However, not everyone was on board with Berners-Lee’s vision.
Despite the world now acknowledging Londoner Berners-Lee’s invention as one of the most important in human history, tabloid newspaper The Sun was quick to undermine his accomplishment, downplaying what would later become known as one of the UK’s finest achievements. In June 1991, just two months before the World Wide Web would become available to the public, The Sun published a page one article titled ‘WORLD WIDE WHAT?’ in which they mocked Berners-Lee’s vision for the web.
Following the subheading ‘COMPUTER ‘WEB’ TO CHANGE BILLIONS OF LIVES (YEAH, RIGHT)’, The Sun wrote:
“A British computer geek’s brainwave…could enable computer users to see documents and pictures made available by others in “cyberspace”. He uses the “internet system”, which so far only links academics but could eventually include anyone….
One scientist said “This could be huge. The idea of linking strangers worldwide, sharing ideas instantly is mind-boggling.” But another sneered “They said Sinclair’s C5 would change the world. Now you’d struggle to give one away.”
Fortunately, The Sun‘s prediction that the web wouldn’t go on to change billions of lives was incredibly wrong, with it now being the primary tool the vast majority use to access the internet.