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22 September 2016

[email protected]: The story of the internet, and how it changed the world

Previously, we have explored a century and a half of British innovation in networking, and learned how one company – going by various names before eventually settling on BT – sat at the core of the first telegraph networks that connected Britain to the world, just as it sits at the core of the modern fibre network that accomplishes the exact same task. But what we have not yet examined is the story behind how that network is used, as the basis for an invention that in human history is probably comparable to agriculture, the wheel or writing: the internet. In the popular imagination, the internet ‘began’ in 1991, and CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee takes the credit. This could not really be much further from the truth; Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, which is actually the space on the internet where documents formatted in hypertext mark-up language (HTML), known more popularly as web pages or sites, reside and are accessed. This is very important, and without it, modern life as we know it would be unimaginable – but it is...

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