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What is the World Wide Web?

© 2001 Walt Howe
(last updated 27 April 2001)

The World Wide Web is one of the protocols that lets you link to many sites on the Internet. The basic unit is the page, such as the page you are now reading. A page can be one or many screens as it displays on your monitor.

Within the page are links to related pages and other web sites. This system of embedding links in the text on a page is called hypertext. The links are distinctive, and vary depending on your browser. With most graphical browsers, links are underlined and appear in a contrasting color.

Text browsers may number the links or show them in bold text to contrast them or in reverse colors when selected. You can select a link in a text browser either by typing the number of the link or by moving the up and down arrow keys to select the link. Once selected, either press Enter or the right arrow to connect to the link.

This page includes several links in contrasting colors or type. These are hypertext links to other pages, and you can switch to the linked page by clicking on or selecting the link. Try it.

[graphic link] You will also see buttons and pictures used for links. With a graphical browser, there will often be a blue or magenta border around the graphic to show you it is a link. If you are using a text-only browser, you won't see the picture, but you will usually see an [image] tag or an alternate name.

The Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee and others at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Switzerland. It was originally for text links only, but as it was further developed, multimedia links were added, too. Now, you can see pictures, listen to audio links, and see video links, if your computer and software are set up for them. With the addition of sound and graphics and fast modems to carry the large sound and graphics files, the Web soon became the most popular way of linking to resources on the Internet, replacing gopher, which was invented at the University of Minnesota.

For more background about the web, see Walt's Internet History.

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