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Ideas for the Web that predate the internet and computers

The Web was not the first attempt to create a global information sharing system. Watch Prof Les Carr discuss those predating the internet & computers.

The Web was not the first attempt to create a global information sharing system.

Since 1850, various other attempts have been made and, in this video lecture, Professor Les Carr introduces you the forerunners of the Web.

At one point, a system called Xanadu had the potential to become a world wide web. Ted Nelson (who is a Visiting Professor here at the University of Southampton) began working on Xanadu in 1960. Ted is also the person who invented the term ‘hypertext’ to describe clickable links. You may be interested in reading more about the history of Xanadu in this 2014 article ‘World’s most delayed software released after 54 years of development’ in the online Guardian.

Here at the University of Southampton in 1988, a group of researchers including Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Professor Hugh Davis developed an open hypermedia system called Microcosm. Built on a peer-to-peer architecture (as opposed to the Web, which is built on a client-sever architecture), one of its main features is that links could be stored in ‘linkbases’ that contained information about such links. Watch this very short video clip on YouTube of Hugh (in 1992) demonstrating how Microcosm works. If you are interested, a longer version (15 minutes) is available from a link at the bottom of this page.

Why do you think the World Wide Web succeeded over other attempts at a global information sharing system?
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