Have you ever wanted to know what browsing the web was like at the very beginning of the web, way back in 1990? Thanks to some retro efforts by a team at CERN (yes the same CERN that built the Large Hadron Collider), you can now try out the very first ever web browser, called WorldWideWeb (and yes, as you may have guessed that’s where the WWW name and acronym comes from). Best of all, this WorldWideWeb rebuild loads just fine in any modern web browser of today, and you can even load many modern websites!
Because the majority of the modern web still uses HTML, the 30 year old WorldWideWeb browser is still able to load most websites you probably visit today, including the one you’re reading right now. It only loads text though (HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol after all) so the experience is sort of like running Lynx at the command line but a bit more limited – this thing is a 30 year old original web browser after all. Regardless, it’s kind of fun to geek around with!
Using the WorldWideWeb browser today is simple:
All you need is a modern web browser, which you’re likely using now to read this website (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, etc). Then just do the following:
3. Double-click links to open them, each new link opens in a new window within the WorldWideWeb browser
Navigating websites with the WorldWideWeb browser is fairly awkward compared to what you’re used to, but it is three decades old and offers a look at the web at its infancy.
This is obviously not the most practical endeavor of all time, but it’s pretty amazing that you can recreate a historical web browser and get it working today in a very different era of the internet.
While WorldWideWeb is the very first web browser, many longtime Macintosh users may have used other early web browsers in the halcyon days of the early web. Maybe your first web browser was WorldWideWeb, Erwise, ViolaWWW, NCSA Mosaic (my personal first), Netscape Navigator, or Internet Explorer (remember when it used to be called “The Internet” on Windows 95?), or maybe it was Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or any of the other later and more modern web browsers.
Anyway, this is just yet another fun retro geeky thing to play around with, so check it out if you’re a fan of techy nostalgia. You probably won’t be using WorldWideWeb as your default browser anytime soon, but that’s not quite the point.