When I was a young man, we had it rough. We used to have to get up out of the shoebox at twelve o'clock at night and lick the road clean with our tongue. We had two bits of cold gravel, worked twenty-four hours a day at mill for sixpence every four years, and when we got home our Dad would slice us in two with a bread knife and while we had the Internet we didn't have the Web. And, when you tell the young people today that... and they won't believe ya!*
The door was open for Berners-Lee to turn the hypertext dream into our Web reality. In October 1990, Berners-Lee used Steve Jobs' NeXT machines, the BSD Unix-based computers that are the modern day Mac's most direct ancestor-- to create the first Web server: info.cern.ch. A version of this lives on to this very day.
By December 25th 1990, Nicola Pellow, a visiting student at CERN, created the first Web browser. This was a simple text-based browser. During 1991, the first real data, the CERN telephone directory, was put online and the WorldWideWeb was made available to other CERN users.
During the next few years, the WorldWideWeb slowly started to spread through academic and research communities and others started to work on it. That's where I came in. I was then a contributing editor at Computer Shopper, part of the same publishing company that would father ZDNet.
I wrote the first "review" of the Web in April 1993 for Shopper. I said "World-Wide Web (WEB) is still a development project, but it is publicly accessible and it provides Internet information hunters with greater power. WEB brings hypertext to the Internet."
I concluded, "Alas, for now, WEB remains mostly potential. The WEB server is only available by telneting to info.cern.ch or nxo01.cern.ch. Its full hypertext informational resources are limited at this time, but they are growing. WEB is the informational wave of the future."
As a result of the sudden passion for everything Web, I also wrote numerous tales about how TCP/IP, the Internet's fundamental networking protocol, worked. What was far harder was explaining to people how to get it to work on then state-of-the-art Windows 3.1 PC with a program called Trumpet Winsock.
Without this or a handful of similar programs, Windows machines couldn't connect to the Internet. Even with it, you had to do a lot of fiddling with the program, your state of the art V32bis's modem with its top speed of 28.8Kbps, and shouting at your ISP tech support line located above a local Chinese restaurant. I have no idea how many times I explained in stories how to get from your PC to the Web but it had to be in the dozens.
Today, the only time you really think about the Web per se is when a major site, such as Twitter goes down. And even then you don't think of the Web as being in trouble. It's just another annoyance.
In 25 years we've gone from the Web being little more than a thought experiment to where we keep up with our friends on Facebook, where we get all our news, and we sit down in front of our Internet-connected TVs every night to watch Netflix movies. Indeed, had I dreamed where the Web would take us today in the early 90s I too would never have believed it.