Web developers rebuild 20-year-old browser

Step back in time to the early days of the web with this project from scientific research centre CERN (opens in new tab), in which a team of talented web developers have recreated a key piece of web history: the line-mode browser.

When Tim Berners-Lee created the world's first website in 1990 at CERN, the sophisticated browser he built was too advanced to be used on most computers owned by people at that time. So, Berners-Lee hired a student, Nicola Pellow, to develop a much simpler browser that could work with the most basic of terminals. The result was the line-mode browser.

Creating your own site? Get the best web hosting available.

Now, over 20-years later, in a fight to conserve CERN's digital history, a team of 12 web developers, including Mark Boulton (opens in new tab), Dan Noyes (opens in new tab) and Jeremy Keith (opens in new tab), have created a line-mode browser emulator. An authentic experience, there's no images, colours or clicking, just content revealed by a character-sized rectangle covering the page, line-by-line.

We have to work hard at digital preservation

"I think people sometimes take the web for granted," says Keith. "We can be pretty blasé about stuff disappearing online. But restoring the line-mode browser is a way of calling out the fact that the first web page still exists and is still at the first URL, and that that is a cause for celebration. We have to work hard at digital preservation."

The line-mode browser emulator is available here (opens in new tab).

Liked this? Read these!

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of six full-time members of staff: Editor Kerrie Hughes, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, and Staff Writer Amelia Bamsey, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.