on 25 April 2001
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.
Probably the most significant achievement of "How the Web was Born" is the technical history is covered in a rigorous but yet lively fashion, with lots of human interest being included to give a background to the various different academic, military and commercial interests which led to the practical development of innovative new ideas in both computer hardware and software, as well as in telecommunications technology and the man - machine interface. As such, "How the Web was Born" has much to offer the casual reader, while not disappointing the more technically minded savant: In all, the authors have provided a most excellent and enjoyable read, whilst still maintaining an authority and attention to technical detail which could make this book a definitive history of the subject in years to come.