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How the Web Was Born: The Story of the World Wide Web Hardcover – Jan 2000


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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Tandem Library (Jan. 2000)
  • ISBN-10: 0613921631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0613921633
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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First Sentence
The World Wide Web is like an encyclopaedia, a telephone directory, a record collection, a video shop, and Speakers' Corner all rolled into one and accessible through any computer. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Roger W. Poultney on 25 April 2001
Format: Paperback
The World Wide Web has seen an explosive period of growth over the past decade and its presence has become ever more pervasive and all embracing. While literally millions have now been exposed to the web (either through daily domestic or business usage - or simply through coverage of the dot com "boom and bust" economy in the traditional media), relatively few seem to know much about how it all came in to being. In this fascinating book, James Gillies (a science writer based at CERN - the European physics laboratory where the web was first developed) and Robert Cailliau (one of this exciting new medium's first proponents) describe in detail how it all came about - and how the vision of the web's original developer Tim Berners-Lee became reality in the shape of the fastest growing communications medium - possibly of all time.
Beginning with the development of the underlying communications infrastructure, the authors describe how what we now know as the Internet evolved from being a nuclear "bombproof" US military network in the late 1960s to becoming the "mother of all networks" so beloved of the academic research communities in the 1970s and 1980s. With these foundations thus laid, the book goes on to describe how the seemingly ambitiously named "World Wide Web" was built on top of the existing Internet in the early 1990s, and just how quickly the medium has since gained acceptance and widespread usage throughout the civilised world.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
How the Web (not the Internet) was born 16 Feb. 2008
By Jeff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
HTWWB is a detailed look at what brought us to where the Web was at the end of the last century. There is a good (although not as good as Where Wizards Stay Up Late) description of how the Internet itself came to be, and then it goes into the whole set of precursors to what Tim Berners-Lee invented at CERN, which became the Web.

The book is notable for really digging back into the precursors of the Web. I've been in networking since 1979 and there were a lot of new things for me to learn in the book.

The book is weak where it over invests in the politics at CERN and especially around the horse-trading that resulted in the consortia that manages the Web, W3C. The last fifty pages of what been an engrossing read just drag and drag.

I'd give the first two thirds of the book at least four stars, the last third two at best. Still, if you're really interested in how things like URL, HTTP, HTML, DNS, etc came about, this is worth making the effort.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Gripping, Rivetting and Spellbinding 5 Feb. 2001
By "jb4mt" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
OK, so I'm used to reviewing books of a more technical nature ;)
This account of the beginning of the web is both entertaining and informative. I highly recommend it to anybody whose introduction to computer science has been the web: this book will fill in a lot of the gaps about the origins of all sorts of topics ,such as hypertext and networking.
I find it interesting that the authors did not always take a linear approach to their subject. Several chapters concentrated on a particular sub-topic, bringing it forward from its root in the fifties or sixties or even earlier, all the way through the nineties.
Then the next chapter would likewise deal with a different but related sub-topic. I found this non-linear approach to be much like the World Wide Web itself. Considering one of the authors was intimately involved with the birth of the Web, I wouldn't be surprised if the book were intended to flow this way....it makes it so that you could conceivably jump around from chapter, just like jumping from hyperlink to hyperlink....
This book might also make good reading for people who are close to web geeks, but aren't geeks themselves. As long as they are intelligent enough to understand computing concepts, it will help explain to them what this fascination of ours is all about. Hey, it may even get THEM interested ;)
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
good, European perspective, too deferential to Berners-Lee. 4 Aug. 2003
By Hugh Claffey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The last in a series of technology books which I have just read ( the others were `Where Wizards stay up late' and `The Triumph of the Ethernet'), this describes the World Wide Web and how it originated. For a start the Web is not the Internet and if you can see the difference between the two, then the book gets very clear. The Web was created as one communications service which could use the internet, by a group in CERN ( a nuclear research facility) in Switzerland.
Tim Berners-Lee came up with the original idea and had the vision and tenacity to push it forward. This book goes back to the origins of the internet - eg. the ARPANET in the US and various other efforts in Europe to lay the ground work for the Web story. One thing about the backround was the fact that the French internet development effort `Cyclades', initially had more flexibility - allowing software addressing, than ARPANET, however, ultimately the European efforts could not maintain the momentum of the US efforts by virtue of their complex funding and management structures. The US efforts evolved faster, addressing mainly of its initial short comings and gained widespread acceptance.
Another indicator, mentioned in the book, of the relative speeds of European vs US development efforts is indicated in the battle for acceptance of TCP/IP vs. OSI standards for computer intercommunication. OSI is an international standards development organisation, and on the face of it, an international communications standard - even if developed slowly - must triumph over de-facto standards. However the pace of OSI development was glacial, and TCP/IP worked and continued to work as the internet grew and grew. Eventually TCP/IP gained such widespread acceptance that it was impossible to ignore.
The pattern repeated itself with the Web - developed in Europe, the first web sites were all European, it was taken up enthusiastically by various US-based software engineers. As Berners-Lee was so short staffed, he appealed to volunteers to write browsers for various types of computers - and Marc Anderson in Illonois' National Centre for Supercomputer Applications, wrote a browser (called Mosaic) which was suitable for personal computers. The book makes clear the Anderson's team worked frenetically, but the code design was viewed as very poor by the CERN team [ they described it as MarcA mode, i.e. buggy]. However the browser launched the World Wide Web to mass appeal and changed the world.
The book briefly describes how Berners-Lee saw the need of a forum to control the development of the Web and could only find practical support for this in the US (at MIT), - despite repeated appeals for funding from various European sources, again a missed opportunity for Europe.
The book has a failing in being too deferential to Berners-Lee (it is co-authored by one of his co-workers in the development effort) but it is an essential read from a European perspective on how the US has the ability, the resources and the ability to recognize and develop innovations
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Once upon a time in the web! 12 Feb. 2006
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Physician Gillies and computation scientific Cailliau gives us an impressive recount, without technical lexicon, about how the actual Web spouted since a Physics lab in Geneva environs.

All the implications generated by this colossal invention, including the whole change of paradigms and profound transformations in our quotidian lives are described with notable erudition and precision.

Once you have started it will be too hard to leave this passionate reading.
Interesting First Hand Look at the Development of the Web 5 July 2014
By Edward J. Barton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is a fine discussion of the history of the development of the World Wide Web from the 1950's to the 1990's by someone who was critical to the effort from the CERN side. The CERN perspective, and as noted elsewhere here, the politics, are part of the story and I do not believe detract from it. The culture of innovation and development - both the engineering and the policy - are covered. This is a first hand account of what has been the development of the greatest change in the world economy since the automobile, and bears reading. While not a riveting page turner, it is a valuable and interesting look at the recent history of one of our lifetime's greatest developments.
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