Oldest page on the Internet

I came across this paper folding page from 1994, that had me wondering about the oldest page on the internet. Obviously, I turned to Google for answers. My search turned up this Slashdot thread that posed the same question a few years ago. Stanford also hosts some documentation of the early world wide web.

Digging through the Slashdot thread reveals that Tim Berners-Lee produced the earliest pages in 1990 and 1991 on his NeXt machine, which servered as both the first server and browser. You had to telnet into the computer at CERN (nxoc01.cern.ch) and look at the hyperlinked files on the machine. The pages no longer exist, but here’s a mirror from 1992.

There are some interesting tidbits in there, like this one:

There is no “top” to the World-Wide Web. You can look at it from many points of view. If you have no other bias, here are some ways of looking for information: By subject, by Type.

Here’s an interesting discussion concerning the initial topology of the web, including whether or not links should be monodirectional or bidirectional and a process for building backlinks in a monodirectional web. It’s been a long time coming but you have to admit the man had vision:

Imagine, for example the publisher of a large and famous book to which many people refer but who has no interest in maintaining his end of their links or indeed in knowing who has refered to the book. In this case the link may be only of use to the person who made it. However, there are cases in which the back-links are of great interest, and so they may be generated off line. This method would also provide intersting statistics on the use of particular links, which would enhance the usage logging.

That last line is the kicker. It took seven or eight years for Google’s Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine to come to fruition and another five before we started seeing the likes of Technorati.

It’s safe to say that Tim Berners-Lee’s pages are the oldest on the internet but it would be interesting to see what other old sites still exist, feel free to add links in the comments. To finish up this entry, it’s worth noting that November marked the 15th anniversary of the web, but it’s a boring number, so no one really cared.