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Book Chapter

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digital information technologies, information technology, html, world wide web


The Internet has been around since the early 1970s. In the early years, the Internet only supported plain text and using the Internet required users to learn the precise syntax of several computer commands. For example, to send an email to user required users to type the command: mail -s “mail subject” <<< “Mail body.” Most users found this too challenging and the only users on the early Internet were computer science researchers at universities.

This changed in 1989 when Sir Tim Berners Lee proposed and demonstrated an information management system in 1989 based on hyperlinks. Users could click on links to navigate to other pages. By 1993, Tim Berners Lee had specified the first version of HTML, which made information sharing as easy as clicking a link on a page. During December 1992–March 1993, Marc Andreesen (a student) and Eric Bina (a graduate) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), both working at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at Urbana-Champaign, built the Mosaic web browser. They also added the “img” tag to html to handle images and released the web browser to the Internet. The browser soon became immensely popular and acquired the status of a killer application that popularized the Internet. Sites like Yahoo offered directories for users to find content on the emerging World Wide Web.

Since then, the Internet has become increasingly user friendly as HTML has improved, adding support for images and videos. This has made the Internet and World Wide Web a powerful force for information sharing and commerce, no longer limited to specialized users familiar with exotic computer commands. Today over 5 billion people, over 60% of the world’s population, use the Internet, primarily because HTML and related technologies have made it easy, inexpensive, and meaningful for anyone anywhere in the world to access the web.

This chapter introduces HTML, the primary end-user technology used on the web.

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