CERN scientists launch project to restore world’s first website

30 Apr 2013

Screenshot of the original NeXT web browser in 1993. Image via CERN

Scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) have started a project to restore the first website and to preserve the digital assets that are linked with the birth of the web.

Computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web while working at CERN in 1989. The project was initially conceived to meet the demand for information sharing between physicists in universities and institutes around the world.

Now scientists at CERN are launching the project to recreate the first website to mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of the document that made web technology free for everyone to use.

It was on this day in 1993 that CERN published a statement that made the world wide web’s technology available on a royalty-free basis.

Other information retrieval systems that used the internet such as WAIS and Gopher were available at the time, but the fact the web’s technology was royalty free led to its rapid adoption and development.

The first website at CERN was hosted on Berners-Lee’s NeXT computer. The website described the basic features of the web, how to access other people’s documents and how to set up your own server. While the NeXT machine is still at CERN, the world’s first website is no longer online at its original address.

That’s why CERN is launching a project to recreate the first website.

Firstly, the scientists want to restore the first URL. They then want to look at the first web servers at CERN to see if they can preserve assets from them.

The researchers ultimately want to make the first web address – – a destination where future generations can learn about how the web began.

CERN is also hoping to hear from people who visited the first website.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic