Home / News

Celebrating 30 Years Since the World Wide Web Was Released to the Public

Walter Hoogland, CERN Director of Research and Computing, 1989-1995. Source: CERN

Thirty years ago, on April 30, 1993, a groundbreaking announcement was made by CERN that would irrevocably transform our world. Walter Hoogland and Helmut Weber, who held the positions of Director of Research and Director of Administration at CERN, respectively, released to the public a revolutionary tool initially proposed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. This tool was designed to enable scientists and institutions globally to exchange information efficiently and accurately while working on CERN data. The significance of this decision was not entirely clear at the time, but it would ultimately change the world as we know it.

The World Wide Web, released by CERN on that fateful day, has since become an indispensable aspect of daily life. The International Telecommunications Union reports that more than 5 billion people—two-thirds of the world’s population—rely on the Internet regularly for various purposes, including research, industry, communication, and entertainment.

Walter Hoogland, who co-signed the document announcing the Web’s release, reflects on the decision: “Most people would agree that the public release was the best thing we could have done, and that it was the source of the success of the World Wide Web, apart from, of course, the World Wide Web itself!”

The original internal document that marked the release of the World Wide Web to the public, signed by Walter Hoogland and Helmut Weber. Source: CERN

At the time of the release, the World Wide Web was made available through an internal document signed by Hoogland and Weber, addressed “to whom it may concern.” In 1993, copyright licensing standards were just beginning to emerge. The document stated that “CERN relinquishes all intellectual property rights to this code, both source and binary form, and permission is granted for anyone to use, duplicate, modify and redistribute it.”

As the concept of open source evolved, the subsequent version of the software, released in 1994, was issued under an open-source license instead of a public domain release. This allowed CERN to retain the copyright while granting anyone the freedom to use and modify the Web as they saw fit. For more information about the licensing of the Web, you can visit this link.

The decision to release the World Wide Web to the public arguably enabled it to expand into the behemoth it is today. By making it freely accessible to all, CERN demonstrated its commitment to open collaboration for the betterment of society. This spirit is now enshrined in CERN’s Open Science Policy, which continues to foster a culture of openness and sharing within the Laboratory.

Dig deeper: To learn more about the origins of the Web at CERN, visit the dedicated Web@30 website or see this resource on the birth of the Web. If you’re interested in insights from one of the co-signatories of the Web’s founding document, you can watch the full interview with Walter Hoogland.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

Visit Page

Filed Under


Comment Title:

  Notify me of follow-up comments

We encourage you to post comments and engage in discussions that advance this post through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can report it using the link at the end of each comment. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of CircleID. For more information on our comment policy, see Codes of Conduct.

CircleID Newsletter The Weekly Wrap

More and more professionals are choosing to publish critical posts on CircleID from all corners of the Internet industry. If you find it hard to keep up daily, consider subscribing to our weekly digest. We will provide you a convenient summary report once a week sent directly to your inbox. It's a quick and easy read.

I make a point of reading CircleID. There is no getting around the utility of knowing what thoughtful people are thinking and saying about our industry.

Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet



Brand Protection

Sponsored byCSC

Threat Intelligence

Sponsored byWhoisXML API

New TLDs

Sponsored byRadix


Sponsored byVerisign

Domain Names

Sponsored byVerisign

IPv4 Markets

Sponsored byIPv4.Global