A declaration that the basic World-Wide Web software from CERN is in
the public domain has been signed by H. Weber, CERN's Director for
Administration and W. Hoogland, Director for Computing.
The declaration, signed on 30 April 1993, makes it clear that this
is not a precedent for CERN software. It states, "CERN's intention
is to further compatibility, common practices, and standards in
networking and computer supported collaboration."
The declaration covers the "libwww" common code library, the line
mode browser (www) and the W3 server (httpd).
The World-Wide Web (W3) is a global information system with a
easy point-and click interface. It provides access to almost all
existing Internet-based information as well as a whole new world
of data presented to the user as multimedia hypertext. By a sequence
of hypertext jumps and text searches, anyone can find his way though
the mass of information available all over the world.
The High Energy Physics community, of which CERN is a European
center, already uses W3 extensively. In all there are more than 70
servers around the world providing data using special W3 protocols,
including such diverse areas as hypertext of US law from the Legal
Information Institute at Cornell University, to the "Thesaurus
Linguarum Hiberniae" collection of medaeval Irish manuscripts from
University College, Cork.
Software for making servers is part of that put into the public
domain by CERN. The other part is the "client" software which allows
the reader to move seamlessly through this data and also all the
existing data on servers using existing "FTP", "WAIS", "Gopher", and
network news protocols. There are more than 14 different client
programs for different computing platforms, written by people from
institues in many countries. "The existence of a common, public
domain kernel of software to handle the protocols will ensure
compatibility, and prevent people having to 'reinvent the wheel'",
says CERN's Tim Berners-Lee, W3's creator.
The W3 project is a success story of international collaboration.
The National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA) in
Illinois have been a powerful force, producing a popular "Mosaic"
client for workstations, and other contributions have come from many
other universities throughout the world. In the US, the Web is seen
as an answer to the Clinton administration's call for a National
Information Infrastructure. It is growing fast. "Traffic we see on
our CERN server has more than doubled every four months for the last
two years", says Berners-Lee, "and of course there is a new server
every few days".
"With the Web, we are sharing knowledge," says Berners-Lee, "without
discrimination as to who or where in the world you are." The W3
developers look forward to a time when the Internet, and so the Web,
will be accessible from homes and high schools anywhere. As well as
an opening up of research centers and government, they are looking
for a sharing of ideas and educational material for all tastes and
Tim Berners-Lee email@example.com
World Wide Web team leader
CERN, CN Division Tel: +41(22)767 3755
1211 Geneva 23, Switzerland Fax: +41(22)767 7155