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Archie, Mosaic, Yahoo and Google: 25 Remarkable Years

March 15th, 2014 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, I wonder why there were no birthday wishes on Facebook for such an auspicious anniversary.

In case you did not hear, the World Wide Web celebrated its 25th birthday on March 12 this week. I learned about the anniversary, rather appropriately, from the Google home page.

My first thought was that the light speed pace of technological development cannot accurately be measured in human years. Perhaps we should be measuring it in dog years which would put its age at around 175 years.

Or is it the other way around? In that case, we should be dividing by seven which would make the web about 3-1/2 years old. Then again, maybe some form of measurement in megabytes is the way to go. Is there such a thing as a mega year?

As if that is not confusing enough, I discovered that we must distinguish between the World Wide Web and the Internet when we have this discussion. The roots of the Internet go back 40 years when a team at UCLA sent the first message on something called ARPANET.

The 25 year birthday relates to a proposal created by 34 year old computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee at a research company in Switzerland which ultimately led to the World Wide Web.

Just so you know, the first ever computer virus dates back to ARPANET. “Creeper” was created in 1971 and was capable of repeating itself endlessly with the message “I’m the Creeper, catch me if you can.” Pandora’s Box was opened and we have suffered the consequences ever since.

I went surfing on Google for interesting dates in the history of the Web. A few of the landmark dates are:

1990: Archie, the first ever search engine, was created by students at McGill University in Montreal as a way of searching information stored on FTP sites. Go Canada!

1993: Mosaic, the first widely adopted graphical user interface, debuted. Prior to Mosaic’s arrival, I thought there was no way that this Internet thing would ever catch on in a big way. I was slightly off the mark on that prediction.

1994: Yahoo arrived on the scene, originally as a means of cataloguing interesting web sites. A big step forward but I still was not sold on the concept.

1998: Google itself debuted. I remember the day someone referred me to Google. It was so simple and elegant compared to what came before it. I was finally converted, albeit grudgingly, to this new technology era.

The term World Wide Web is, of course, a metaphor in and of itself depicting the electronic spider web that now connects every far flung corner of the globe. Hard to believe that all this happened in only 25 years, or 40 years depending on your point of view.

One thing is for certain. Our concept of time and space has radically changed in the course of one generation. What if our world is now one big zip file inside the World Wide Web? I’ll leave you to meditate on that wild concept.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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