The World Wide Web (generally abbreviated as WWW or W3) is a “software infrastructure” consisting of many different communication standards for gaining access to, and exchanging information over, the Internet. Many different kinds of computer software applications that run on computers connected to the Internet use those communication standards to provide that access and/or make those exchanges. The presence of a web browser is the most familiar sign that access to the World Wide Web, or just “the web”, is available.
The development of what eventually became the World Wide Web was started in the late
1980s by Tim Berners-Lee and others at CERN (the French acronym for the European Laboratory for Nuclear Research). The idea was to use the notion of hypertext so that scientific documents could be made available over the Internet to anyone who had a connected computer. The term hypertext refers to the “linking” of documents to one another in such a way that one can easily go from viewing one document to viewing another related document via a “link” to that other document that appears in the first document. HTML was developed for the purpose of describing the structure of documents containing such links that would be made available, and “browsers” with
simple text-based interfaces (Lynx being one of the better known ones) were used to retrieve and display these documents. It was not until Mosaic, the first widely used browser with a Graphical User Interface (GUI), was developed that the World Wide Web really took off. The rest, as everyone now knows, is history.