HTML history

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Brief prehistory

A long time ago, almost in the infancy of civilization (up to the 70-s of the XX century) there was no Internet. At all.

With the advent of computers there were desire and need to connect them in one form or another, and four major US Universities got down to it. About seven years have passed from the moment of concept creation to the historical moment:

October 29, 1969 – At this day a communication session was held between two first nodes of ARPANET network at a distance of 640 km at The University of California and Stanford Research Institute. A scientist from Los Angeles remotely connected to a computer in Stanford. His colleague from Stanford observed appearance of the symbols entered at a distance on the screen and confirmed the transfer of each letter by phone. There and then began the era of computer networks.

For a long time, Internet was designed for specialists only and served mainly for exchange of technical documentation and emails. That’s why ordinary users had nothing to do there. It was only in the early 90-s of the last century when the revolution “Internet to the people!” happened 🙂

1991

An English scientists Timothy John Berners-Lee at CERN in Geneva invented the co-called Hypertext Markup Language, also known as HTML, designed for marking and formatting of World Wide Web documents.

vertex_HTML1

Oh yes! Sir Tim also developed a global hypertext project, which now is known as World Wide Web Actually, HTML was born during work on this project.

HTML language 

HTML is a successor of SGML, but it was created in order that not only specialists of front-end web development can use it. I.e. since its first days HTML had the following advantages:

  • Simplicity, which was achieved by means of small set of structural elements – descriptors, also known as tags. All tags are written in angle brackets, for example <img> and convey some meaning.
  • Ability to format a document without reference to display facilities (such as computer monitor, phone screen or reader).

And you probably have already guessed, that the world’s first web site was created by Tim Berners-Lee 🙂 We don’t know the exact date of HTML creation, since it was the long term project. But the birthdate of the first website is known – it is August 6, 1991. By the way, it can be seen even today, but it’s already in the archive..

I believe that all web developers can rightfully consider this date as their professional holiday 🙂

First_web_site

How do you like this page? 🙂 I believe most of you didn’t want to read it, let alone to stay there for long. The developers also understood the fact that it was only the beginning, and all hell broke loose:

June 1993 - HTML 1.2

This version had more than 40 tags, already 3 of them hinted at some kind of visual formatting of documents (for example, bold italics). The rest of the tags served exclusively for logical markup.

1994 - foundation of W3C

Sir Tim Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium(W3C). The W3C’s mission was and remains as follow:

To lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure the long-term growth of the Web.

The great merit of these guys is that HTML was released with one basic set of tags and attributes and web pages became the same as we know them today. Just imagine – in the middle 90-s several major software developers were intended to release their versions of HTML with their own names of tags. What a mess could we have the field of web development! For example, some employment ads: “Looking for webpage designer for Mozilla FirefoxEdge”, “In urgent need of designer for Edge”, “Looking for designer for Kindle”… in short, thank you, W3C 🙂

September 22, 1995 – Version 2.0

The process of development and approval of the new version was very leisurely, the noticeable improvements in this versions were:

  • Queries: such as keyword search
  • Forms for data transfer from computer to server: for example, to enter a date or to choose one of several options in a data polling.

March 1995 – beginning of work on HTML 3.0

The first version of the standard included a lot of interesting things:

  • tags for tables creating;
  • layout of math formulas;
  • text wrap and so on.

The creators suddenly realized that according to their own idea HTML should only mark the structure of documents and shouldn’t contain any settings of graphic styles for elements visualization in browser.

During the creation of HTML 3.0 the developers scratched heads over the question how to solve the inconsistency between the ideology of structural formatting and user needs, which were much more interested in web page design.

And in order that this inconsistency doesn’t change the initial properties of HTML, the creators of the third version decided to add the support for the new facility to it, which served for web pages’ design.

December 17, 1996 – CSS

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)is the style sheets that can be attached to HTML document and serve for visual design of various parts of documents.

Well, the CSS system:

  • formally is independent of HTML;
  • has its own, different to HTML, syntax;
  • isn’t affected by ideological restrictions of HTML;
  • allows to set the parameters of external view for any HTML tag.

With the help of CSS the creators of web pages could easily change font and size of anything they wanted, most notably – instead of introducing a lot of new tags, the developers created a mechanism that affected interpretation of existing HTML tags.

To demonstrate the wonders of CSS a Canadian Dave Shea created CCS Zen Garden, a place where hundreds of web developers can meditate and design the same HTML page in completely different CSS styles.

Impact of Microsoft

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away… Microsoft noticed a meteoric rise in sales of Netscape’s Navigator browser and of course couldn’t stand aside. MS slightly reworked Mosaic browser and started to release their Explorers, which at the start weren’t well-loved by users (well, not only at the start ;)).

The third version of Internet Explorer was created in August 1996. The browser offered significant innovations at that time and became popular. As result, Netscape Communications and Microsoft shared the market in half.

And at the same time, Microsoft took the W3C under its wing.

January 14 1997 – HTML 3.2

The version 3.2 was released a month after the approval of the CSS and was fully adopted to interact with the style sheets.

Many innovations from version 3.0 were dropped out, instead the developers added some unusual elements, supported by Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer 3 browsers.

December 18, 1997 – HTML 4.0

In this version they cleaned up many elements from the previous versions. Many tags were marked as outdated and not recommended for use. Instead, it was necessary to use the CSS style sheets.

The new version included support for frames, scripts and generic procedure of object embedding. Also it had improved tables and forms, which in addition to other advantages provided greater accessibility for physically handicapped people.

HTML 4 version was developed with the help of experts in the field of internationalization, therefore it became possible to write documents in any language and easily send them all over the world.

December 24, 1999 – HTML 4.01

In this version they slightly tweaked objects, forms and images, fixed some bugs and created in general more stable version, which was used by web developers for more than 10 years.

Working Group WHAT

2004 год: A Swiss programmer Ian Hickson (at the time a developer in Opera) and several representatives of companies such as Mozilla, Google and Apple, founded the working group called WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group).

The reason for the creation of this community was the fact that the W3C lost interest in HTML at that time and engaged in the development of XML, and on its basis – in the development of the extensible hypertext markup language XHTML. We will not go into details, because this language ceased to evolve at the moment.

For two years both the W3C and WHAT Working Group worked for their own projects. Later if became clear WHAT Working Group achieved some results, but XHTML 2 was never implemented.

In 2006 Tim Berners-Lee announced that the W3C and WHATWG would work together on the further development of HTML.

October 28, 2014 – HTML5

From this day on the W3C officially recommends to use HTML5. 

  • The new version made the syntax stricter in comparison to previous versions
  • Support for multimedia technologies was improved
  • There were 28 new structural elements, which made the code more understandable
  • Some outdated tags were removed
  • They paid more attention to support of the scripts, such as javascript

HTML5_sticker

Currently HTML development continues…

In early June the W3C published a working draft of 5.1 version. The Consortium asks everyone to write their reviews and comments on this version, as HTML is still the project at which a lot of caring people who love angle brackets simultaneously work together.

Who knows, maybe you can become one of them in the very near future.

 

 

 

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