AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXXIV, No. 1 Spring 2002

 

SLAC - The Once and Future Web
SLAC Archives Exhibit Celebrates Anniversary of First U.S. Web Site

by Jean Marie Deken, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) Ar chives and History Office has recently mounted an online exhibit about the SLAC Web site, which celebrated its 10th anniversary on December 12, 2001. The exhibit features a chronology of the first few years of the first Web site in the United States and background information on the SLAC Web "Wizards," a group of volunteers at the lab who got the Web up and running in the U.S. The exhibit also features displays of five of the first pages mounted on the SLAC site ("small, ugly, and first" is what the BBC calls them!), and has links to general histories of the early Web and to publications and lectures about the history of the SLAC Web site.

The World Wide Web was invented in 1990 by physicist Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Berners-Lee gave a demonstration of the Web to Paul Kunz, a SLAC physicist, while Paul was on a visit to CERN in the summer of 1991. Kunz brought word of the Web back to SLAC in September, and the SLAC site was born three months later.

Opened to coincide with a SLAC symposium celebrating the Web site's 10th anniversary, the SLAC Web history exhibit uses archival documentation gathered by the Archives and History Office over the past 6 years, and will be updated and expanded as processing of this Web archival documentation is completed. Much of the documentation in the SLAC Web collection has come from the personal files of the SLAC Web "Wizards" and their mentor, Paul Kunz. Particularly rich are the papers of Louise Addis and Joan Winters, who from the earliest days, saved records of Wizards meetings, correspondence, and actual Web page iterations. This documentation predates other known Web archives by about five years, and is of interest because of the unique glimpse it provides into the first, small and tentative stages of what has become a powerful and ubiquitous element of 21st century life. The exhibit can be viewed at www.slac.stanford.edu/history/earlyweb/pagesnotes.shtml and the SLAC Web Anniversary Symposium at www-project.slac.stanford.edu/webanniv .


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