That homemade computer was built for fun while Tim Berners-Lee was still at university. But the creation which made him famous was born out of desperation.
In 1989 Berners-Lee was working as an independent contractor at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), and struggling to share information easily with colleagues.
Almost a decade earlier, he had developed the Enquire hypertext system – where text contains links to other texts. Now he found a way to join hypertext to the internet, to make documents easily accessible.
When he wrote a proposal detailing the project, his manager called it “vague, but exciting”. But the obvious benefits of being able to share information with anyone, anywhere, meant the idea survived.
Two years later, Berners-Lee launched the world’s first website – a white page of text with links, explaining the project now known as the World Wide Web.
In his original proposal, Berners-Lee defined his idea as “aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents.” With over 1.8 billion websites in 2018, that idea has thrived more than even the Web’s creator could have imagined.