WWW @ 20

August 6th 1991 was a special day in the world of computers, it was the day that Tim Berners-Lee published the first ever website.

I doubt many of you actually remember that website, but that is because the only people who had the software to view it, worked at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). I wonder if Berners-Lee ever envisaged just how life changing his project would be, not only for him, but for the world.

I remember going to my first concert back in 1987 (U2 in Croke Park in case you were wondering). I had to get up very early in the morning to go down and queue outside my local record store to buy tickets. Today, whilst still in bed, I can open up a website and purchase tickets to a concert anywhere in the world.

Who remembers booking flights before the World Wide Web? It involved paying a visit to your local travel agent, discussing the days you wanted to fly and then trying to find the cheapest possible flight on those dates. Once the flight was booked, you paid your money and waited for your tickets arrived by post. Today it is a much simpler process. You open up your internet browser, logon to a website, pick your own flights, pay for them on line and print out your own boarding card.

Who amongst us remembers sitting by the radio with your fingers just waiting to hit the record button when your favourite song came on the radio? Perhaps you had a home stereo with record deck and tape recorder and you carefully made your own mix tapes. I’ll admit that was fun, but an hour long mix took well over an hour to make! Then the iPod and iTunes came along and the way we listened to and purchased music changed for ever. We now have access to millions of tracks, from obscure world music titles to the latest chart toppers and everything in between.

We can now bank online with relative ease. We can transfer funds between accounts, pay bills, check balances and so on. Unless you are depositing money to your account, you don’t need to step inside your bank anymore!

For me, the greatest improvement the World Wide Web has made is in the area of communication. For anyone who has family living abroad, the Web makes keeping in contact so much easier. Photos of a special day can instantly be shared on services such as Photobucket. Video clips of special events can be uploaded to Youtube within moments and you can video chat with friends and family all over the world using GMail or Facebook.

So, Happy 20th Birthday to the World Wide Web, I’m sure you, like me are looking forward to the next 20 years and the changes that will bring.