The Public Internet Turns 20 Today!

It’s hard to believe, but 20 years ago yesterday, there was no publicly available World Wide Web. Sure, the Internet existed (and had for many years), but it wasn’t until Tim Berners-Lee (pictured), working at CERN, developed the software necessary to make the Web the information superhighway that it is today. (When’s the last time you heard someone drag out that old "information superhighway" chestnut?)

The difference that the Web has made in the world is undeniable and cannot be overstated, but many of us alive today fit into a generational niche where we’re old enough to remember trying to navigate life, school, work, and relationships without the Web but are young enough that when it debuted, we “got it” right away and quickly assimilated it and its uses into our daily lives.

1993 computer
This is what computers looked like in 1993, kids (Image credit: Fox News/AP)

For instance, “research” meant going to the actual, physical library. Google didn’t exist yet, so if you didn’t know some factoid, so you had to look it up in Encyclopedia Britannica. (And many families had entire volumes of the things on their bookshelves.) If you wanted to learn how to play the guitar, you had to go and find a human being at a shop somewhere to teach you during the day instead of just pulling up YouTube videos and learning on your own in the wee hours. If you wanted to buy something that your local store didn’t carry, you either had to beg a merchant to special order it for you, find it a paper catalog, or just live without it. Selling a car? That’s the newsprint Auto Trader for you, pal.

And on and on and on.

To commemorate this major birthday of the Web, let us hear about your first encounter with it. How old were you? What was the first website you remember visiting? What computer did you use to access it?