The 6th of August 1991 is one of those significant dates that most people don't know about, a day that changed the world.
It was the day that Tim Berners-Lee made public the first World Wide Web server, running on a NeXT cube on his desk at CERN. That little black workstation was the first of millions of servers, machines that link the world through screens in pockets, on desks, in living rooms and in offices. The ambitiously named World Wide Web is truly worldwide, an engine for democracy and equality, and for commerce and government. It's a system that's powered revolutions, brought people together, and torn them apart, a global network that puts you a few key strokes away from more than two billion other people.
If anything could be described as a technological singularity, then that moment when Berners-Lee fired up his little server was one, the point where everything changed. Once the Web was born there was no going back, and the world was forever different. We were on a road to the cloud, and to the browser-driven HTML world that's defining the next generation of operating systems, from iOS to Windows 8.
That server's still around, though no longer connected to the network. Now it's an exhibit, in a museum that very few people get to visit.
A few years back a group of UK journalists went to CERN for an Intel event. While we were there Rupert Goodwins, Mary Branscombe and I made a little pilgrimage, into the museum at the back of the reception building.
There, in an acrylic cube sits that very server, surrounded by books and papers as if it was still on Berners-Lee's desk. It's not that impressive, the machine that changed the world. But then you think about it, and step back a little and realise just what that little server meant for the world.
The World's First Web Server
The partially peeled sticker on the cube? It's one we've all stuck on that first skunk works intranet server hidden under a desk somewhere...
This machine is a server, do not power it down
Happy birthday Web!