The Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the Internet – Or Is It?

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are abuzz with celebratory posts and tweets marking August 23, 2016 as the 25th anniversary of the internet. For history purists, though, the facts don’t technically back that up.

What everyone can agree upon is that the World Wide Web was the creation of Sir Tim Burners-Lee, a computer scientist. Burners-Lee and the World Wide Web Foundation celebrated the 25th anniversary of his creation on March 12, 2014, twenty-five years after the scientist’s actual creation of what would become the internet as we know it today.

Following the March 12, 1989 creation by Burners-Lee, other notable dates include August 6, 1991 as the date when the Burners-Lee announced his project, something he created while working for CERN, a European nuclear research facility, the debut of the World Wide Web for the public, although mostly useful to hypertext aficionados.

Then in 1993, CERN provided its web software for free to the entire world. Later that same year the government-funded web browser, Mosaic, was created by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina, allowing the melding of text and images for the first time.

So what about August 23 makes it Internaut day? The origins of celebrating this date as when users around the world could first use the Web can be credited to Andreas Sofroniou, a man of varied accomplishments, from psychotherapist to information technology executive, who has written 106 books on subjects ranging from psychoanalysis to information technology to artificial intelligence. It is Sofroniou who wrote that August 23 was, in fact, the anniversary date of the internet – something both the World Wide Web Foundation and CERN dispute.

For most users of the internet, the exact date of its anniversary is of little interest; having access to it is something many users take for granted. Whether August 23 is the technically correct date to celebrate the creation of something that has so vitally transformed the world and communication seems to be less important than having at least one day when we show appreciation to those pioneers in computer science.

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