Overview of the World Wide Web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, wanted his web technology made universal and free forever.

Web Glimpse

  • WWW is World Wide Web.
  • The Web is always capitalized.
  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the Web in 1989.
  • W3C regulate the Web standards.
  • Remember these abbreviations: HTML, HTTP, URI.
  • Every website has a name called domain name.
  • Every domain name should be registered with ICANN.
  • URI comprises a URN and a URL.

The Beginning of the Web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, invented the World Wide Web in 1989. Working at CERN in Switzerland, he had observed that scientists in the laboratory had difficulty sharing information. He said —

“In those days, there was different information on different computers, but you had to log on to different computers to get at it. Also, sometimes you had to learn a different program on each computer. Often it was just easier to go and ask people when they were having coffee…”

Thus, he proposed a project called Information Management: A Proposal. His boss did not approve the project but he allowed Tim to work on it.
Tim’s web project was founded on three fundamental technologies —

  1. HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Allows for the retrieval of linked resources from across the Web.
  2. URI – Uniform Resource Identifier. A unique address that identifies each resource on the Web.
  3. HTML – HyperText Markup Language. The language for the web.

Tim wanted his web technology made universal. Thus, he made it open to everyone free forever. As a result, the web grew and flourished phenomenally due to global interests, collaboration, creativity, and innovation.
In 1994, Sir Tim founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community devoted to developing open Web standards.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s famous line about the Web that he invented —

“This is for Everyone.”

Express your gratitude to Sir Tim Berners-Lee for giving us the Web. Follow him on Twitter @timberners_lee.

Tim worked on his web project using a NeXT computer. NeXT is the company that Steve Jobs put up when Apple fired him.

Technologies That Govern The Web

The World Wide Web (WWW), or simply the Web, is just one part of the Internet. It is one way to access information across the Net. The Web uses a protocol called Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to transmit and access data. A protocol is a set of rules or standards that governs or regulates data transfers and movement on the Internet. In the World Wide Web, HTTP is that standard. As mentioned in the preceding section, the Web is governed by these technologies: HTML, URI, and HTTP. The Web is always capitalised unless you use it to modify another word to form a compound word, eg a web site.

That Thing Called Resource

Every thing, tangible or abstract, on a website, or the Internet in general, is referred to as a resource. Each resource is identified with what is called URI (Uniform Resource Identifier). A URI may be a name or a location or both.

If you are to describe your surroundings, you identify every thing that you see, hear, touch, feel or sense, such as objects, places, emotions, activities, situations, states and conditions. On the Internet, there are computers, media storage, connectors, ports, websites, web pages, protocols, files, documents, images, processes, activities, codes, numbers, apps, methods, scripts and so many things more. Each one of them is identified with a string of characters called URI.

There are URI that are comprehensible to an ordinary person because they form a string of characters that looks like ordinary words, eg /gallery/may-2017/image-123.jpg. There are also URI that looks like random string of characters that doesn’t make sense, thus so difficult to read, eg https://goo.gl/juP4tg. That is just a short one but a URI can be a string of a hundred or more characters.

Difference Between URI and URL

The Internet is governed by these protocols: TCP/IP, HTTP, FTP, POP, SMTP and IMAP. The Web uses the protocol HTTP. If a URI includes a protocol, which is a method of accessing a resource, it is called URL (Uniform Resource Locator). When you upload and download files to and from a web server (where web files are stored), the protocol FTP takes care of it.

This site’s URL is


which is also a URI. On Facebook, the URL of this site’s counterpart page is


which is also its URI. However, the name of this website


is not referred to as a URL. It is URI for the reason that it does not include the protocol HTTP. So, URI remains a URI whether it contains or not a protocol. On the other hand, URL must always include a protocol.

The following are other examples of URI that is also URL.


But these ones are URI, not URL.


In layman’s lingo, if you want to visit someone’s website, ask “What’s the name of your website?” rather than “What’s your web address?” The latter means that you are also interested in stuff on his website that you should have no access to. If you are interested in visiting a particular web page, or link a word to a particular web page, then ask for its URL.

Each Website Needs A Domain

The World Wide Web comprises a billion websites. Each website has its own unique name called domain name. To make your website name as your own official name, you register this with a domain name registry. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is the organization that governs the allocation of domain names. To register a domain name is not free. You pay for a subscription every year until you cancel it.

Further Reading

There are many books and websites dedicated to giving information about the Internet and the Web. As a beginner in building websites, you don’t have to know every detail about the Net and the Web. However, if you wish to learn more about this topic, you can browse a bookstore and pick one that interests you. You may also visit the websites of Internet Society, Living Internet and Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation.

1-Minute Quiz

  1. Who invented the World Wide Web?
  2. What’s the difference between URN and URL and URI?
  3. All domain names must be registered with ICANN. True or false?
  4. How can you access a website on the Web?
    1. Browser
    2. Domain name
    3. HTTP
    4. URL
  5. What’s the difference between a web page and HTML?

Your Next Lesson

I have introduced in this article about domain names. Each website has to have a domain name. With 1.1 billion websites worldwide, it won’t be easy coming up with a unique domain name. Before you proceed to the next lesson, complete this activity.

Conceptualize your website. What is it about? Make a list. Then, what will you call your website? Make the name of your website short.

Next: Lesson 3 What Domain Name Is Best For You.

Ref. Web Foundation