Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

World Wide Web Timeline

Since its founding in 1989, the World Wide Web has touched the lives of billions of people around the world and fundamentally changed how we connect with others, the nature of our work, how we discover and share news and new ideas, how we entertain ourselves and how communities form and function.

The timeline below is the beginning of an effort to capture both the major milestones and small moments that have shaped the Web since 1989. It is a living document that we will update with your contributions. To suggest an item to add to the timeline, please message us.



    The NeXT Computer used by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN. (Wikipedia)
  • 42% of American adults have used a computer.
  • World’s first website and server go live at CERN, running on Tim Berners-Lee’s NeXT computer, which bears the message “This machine is a server. DO NOT POWER DOWN!”
  • Tim Berners-Lee develops the first Web browser WorldWideWeb.
  • Archie, the first tool to search the internet is developed by McGill University student Alan Emtage.


  • xcoffee

    Researchers rig up a live shot of a coffee pot so they could tell from their computer screens when a fresh pot had been brewed. Later connected to the World Wide Web, it becomes the first webcam.


  • The term “surfing the internet” is coined and popularized.
  • LHC5
    Credit: Silvano de Gennaro / CERN

    Tim Berners-Lee posts the first photo, of the band “Les Horribles Cernettes,” on the Web.

  • The line-mode browser launches. It is the first readily accessible browser for the World Wide Web.










  • Only 3% of internet users say they got most of their information about the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath from the internet.
  • The average internet user spends 83 minutes online.

  • Jimmy Wales launches Wikipedia. Users write over 20,000 encyclopedia entries in the first year.


  • 55 million people now go online from work and 44% of those who have internet access at work say their use of the internet helps them do their jobs.
  • Screenshot by Wired
    Screenshot by Wired

    Social networking site launches, but is quickly overtaken by Facebook.

  • Microsoft launches Xbox Live, its online multiplayer gaming service.”Critics scoffed at the idea, noting how uncommon broadband connections were at the time.”


  • Credit: CNET
    Credit: CNET

    Apple launches the iTunes Music Store with 200,000 songs at 99¢ each. The store sells one million songs in its first week.

  • Skype, a voice-over-IP calling and instant messaging service, launches and quickly becomes a verb, as in “Skype me.”
  • Professional networking site LinkedIn launches.
  • is founded and quickly adopted by musicians seeking to share music and build their fan bases.
  • President George W. Bush signs the CAN-SPAM Act into law, establishing the first national standards for the sending of commercial email.
  • WordPress blog publishing system created.



  • 8% of adult American internet users say they participate in sports fantasy leagues online.
  • 9% of internet users (13 million Americans) went online to donate money to the victims of Gulf Coast hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  • About one-in-six online adults – 25 million people – have sold something online.

  • Broadband connections surpass dial-up connections.
  • Community news site Reddit is founded. It is bought by Conde Nast a year later for $20 million.
  • Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. buys MySpace for $580 million and sells it in 2011 for $35 million.
  • YouTube is founded on Valentine’s Day. The first video, an explanation of what’s cool about elephants, is uploaded by co-founder Jawed Karim on April 23. Google acquires the company a year later.










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