According to Wikipedia.org, the World Wide Web (WWW) "is an information space in which the items of interest, referred to as resources, are identified by global identifiers called Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI)."
The World Wide Web wasn't among the first services on early Internet. Before the Internet grew to what it is today - it was called Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), and was launched back in 1968.
A bit of history behind the Internet
In 1968, the Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of US' Department of Defense, created the first large scale packet switching network - ARPANET.
The breakthrough was packet switching. It allowed data to be assembled into packets, which could be routed independently of other packets. Among the first services available on ARPANET were the email and the File Transfer Protocol (FTP).
By far, the most popular service was the Email, counting for almost 75% of all the ARPANET traffic.
The second popular service on early Internet was the Usenet, a system of distributed groups which still exists today. The protocol is similar with today's email discussion groups.
The first Web Browser
The first web browser was "WorldWideWeb", back in 1991, a web browser and editor. NeXTSTEP users could use it to browse and create web pages through the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and upload new or modified web pages through the File Transfer Protocol.
What is the WWW
The World Wide Web is made up of three standards: the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).
The URI is used to uniquely reference resources on the Web, for example a complete, well-formed URI is http://www.spotlightingnews.com/scitech.php. The first part, "http://" refers to the protocol to be used. "www.spotlightingnews.com" is just a name for an Internet Protocol (IP) address, and "scitech.php" is the file you want to get from the server.
The HTTP specifies how the server and browser communicate. These details rarely - if ever get to the end user. However, a popular example is the "404 error code", which is part of the HTTP protocol. It announces the browser that the page was not found.
The HTML describes how the web pages should be written, as well as how the browsers should draw and interpret them. For instance, the "<b>" tag means bold text.
The World Wide Web today
According to a recent study, the estimated number of indexable Web pages (pages that search engines can reach) was at least 11.5 billion in January 2005. According to the report, Google had about 76% of it indexed, Yahoo 69% and MSN 62%.
Even though 11.5 billion web pages doesn't seem much, it is estimated than about 60 to 70 times more web pages are currently inaccessible to search engines.
What's in store for us in the future? Better multimedia capabilities, sound and video, animation and much more. Standards on these issues are being developed and might be implemented in browsers in the next few years. What else? That's a topic for a whole new article...
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