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History of the Web

The World Wide Web is the result of years of evolutionary change. No one person or group can be credited with its creation. Indeed, it is unlikely that the original designers had notions as grand as the eventual reality of their accomplishment. Although based on the concept of embedded links between documents, called hypertext, which has its beginnings in the mid-Forties, the Web is generally considered the idea of one man, Tim Berners-Lee. In 1989, Berners-Lee submitted a proposal for a research project to CERN (Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire) in Geneva, Switzerland. Berners-Lee's proposal outlined a hypertext-based system that we would all recognize as today's Web, but it did not discuss the technical foundation of that system, and did not address the need to develop network protocols to support the system. The paper basically proposed extending the HyperCard system that was available for the Apple Macintosh computer to a local network-based system. The Web actually has a very humble beginning; the proposal does not, for example, foresee the expansion of the proposed system to global proportions.
In the following year 1990, a NeXT Cube workstation was purchased by CERN, and work began on the first graphical hypertext delivery system the first Web browser. The CERN labs also distributed technical details that allowed developers to create their own Web servers. The first websites were initially set up as experimental, or "proof of concept" sites, mostly by academic and research institutions with the resources to develop them. Most of these were very simple servers, consisting of a few hundred lines of C code, based on source code obtained from CERN. In November 1992, the CERN list of reasonably reliable servers consisted of only 26 servers, at sites around the world. All of this changed in 1993. CERN was making available its own reasonably reliable server, with instructions on how to port and compile it to different types of hardware. In the United States, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, released NCSA Mosaic. The development and free distribution of the Mosaic browser was the catalyst that caused a sudden and sustained increase in the proliferation of Web servers on the Internet. NCSA also offered its own version of a Web server that was freely downloadable and relatively easy to install. The NCSA server was more widely adopted than the CERN server and lead the way with the addition of new features.
By 1994 the most widely used web server software in the world was NCSA httpd which is no longer in use. NCSA also had the lead in the development of the HTTP client portion with the Mosaic browser. The Web looked like it belonged to NCSA nonprofit organization, something that is almost inconceivable from our viewpoint. Progress on the NCSA server project stalled when its developer, Rob McCool, left NCSA in mid-1994. Since the source code for the NCSA server was widely available, many developers were already working on improvements and bug fixes. This trend toward decentralized, uncoordinated development continued into 1995, the year in which the Apache server was born.

Additional Web servers

Below is a short list of additional Web servers:
  1. Tomcat: This cross-platform server is especially powerful when working with Sevlets
  2. IBM Websphere: This cross-platform server works especially well in situations where you hook up a Web server with legacy systems (for example, corporate mainframes).
  3. Oracle Weblogic Server: Oracle's solution for use with the Oracle 12c and 13c. Oracle often recommends this server for e-commerce sites that use Oracle databases.