5 Fast Facts About the World Wide Web on Its 30th Birthday

iStock.com/mactrunk
iStock.com/mactrunk

Though the World Wide Web has only been around for a few decades, it's practically impossible to imagine life without it today. In honor of its 30th birthday—a milestone celebrated by today's Google Doodlehere are some facts about the system that keeps the world connected.

1. The World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989.

Thirty years ago, CERN computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee proposed an idea for a database of hypertext links that would allow people to send data and communicate across a network. Berners-Lee wasn't looking to transform modern life when he invented the World Wide Web; he had just gotten tired of having to switch computers whenever he needed to access information that wasn't on his main work computer.

2. There's a difference between the internet and the World Wide Web.

Start of World Wide Web address on internet browser.
iStock.com/hayatikayhan

Though the terms are often used interchangeably, the internet and the World Wide Web are not the same. Many experts peg the start of the internet to September 2, 1969, when a team of computer scientists at UCLA got two computers to send data to each other through a network for the first time. Twenty years later, the World Wide Web made this technology user-friendly and accessible to the public.

3. The world's first website is still online.

Many websites from the early days of the Web have gone dark, but the first one is still live. Berners-Lee brought the site online from a lab in the Swiss Alps in 1991. Even though it looks primitive, the site has actually been updated from its original state several times.

4. The first image ever uploaded is very '90s.

In 1992, Berners-Lee needed a photo to test out the World Wide Web's new image-hosting capabilities. An IT developer shot a photograph of a comedy band, Les Horribles Cernettes, which was comprised of other CERN employees at the Swiss lab where they worked [PDF]. When the picture was uploaded, it made history as the first image ever shared on the Web.

5. Berners-Lee has mixed feelings about his invention today.

Over the past 30 years, Berners-Lee has watched his creation evolve into a force he could have never envisioned. In an open letter published to mark the World Wide Web's 30th birthday, he wrote, "while the web has created opportunity, given marginalized groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit." He urged people to fight to minimize the negative consequences of the Web, such as harassment, polarizing discourse, and the spread of misinformation.

This Smart Accessory Converts Your Instant Pot Into an Air Fryer

Amazon
Amazon

If you can make a recipe in a slow cooker, Dutch oven, or rice cooker, you can likely adapt it for an Instant Pot. Now, this all-in-one cooker can be converted into an air fryer with one handy accessory.

This Instant Pot air fryer lid—currently available on Amazon for $80—adds six new cooking functions to your 6-quart Instant Pot. You can select the air fry setting to get food hot and crispy fast, using as little as 2 tablespoons of oil. Other options include roast, bake, broil, dehydrate, and reheat.

Many dishes you would prepare in the oven or on the stovetop can be made in your Instant Pot when you switch out the lids. Chicken wings, French fries, and onion rings are just a few of the possibilities mentioned in the product description. And if you're used to frying being a hot, arduous process, this lid works without consuming a ton of energy or heating up your kitchen.

The lid comes with a multi-level air fry basket, a broiling and dehydrating tray, and a protective pad and storage cover. Check it out on Amazon.

For more clever ways to use your Instant Pot, take a look at these recipes.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Thomas Edison’s First Patented Invention—a Voting Machine for Congress—Was a Total Flop

Sadly, Congress voted 'No' on using Thomas Edison's voting machine.
Sadly, Congress voted 'No' on using Thomas Edison's voting machine.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

On June 1, 1869, Thomas Edison patented his very first invention: a voting machine meant for Congress.

According to Rutgers University’s Thomas A. Edison Papers Project, the 22-year-old inventor might’ve been inspired to design the device after newspaper reports announced that both the New York state legislature and the city council of Washington, D.C., were investigating means of automating their ballot process. At the time, legislators voted by calling out “Yea” or “Nay” (or something of that nature), and a clerk jotted down their responses one by one.

Edison’s “electrographic vote-recorder” had the names of all the voters listed twice: in a “Yes” column on one side, and a “No” column on the other. When a person flipped a switch to indicate their vote, the machine would transmit the signal through an electric current and mark their name in the corresponding column, while keeping track of the total tally of votes on a dial. After everyone had voted, an attendant would place a sheet of chemically treated paper on top of the columns and press down on it with a metallic roller, imprinting the paper with the results.

thomas edison electrographic vote-recorder patent 1869
The sketch that accompanied Edison's patent.
U.S. Patent 0,090,646, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

A telegraph operator named Dewitt Roberts invested $100—about $1754 in today's dollars, according to Tech Times—in the device and set off for an exhibition on Capitol Hill. Alas, members of Congress were completely uninterested, and the committee chairman in charge of deciding its fate declared that “if there is any invention on earth that we don't want down here, that is it.”

The committee didn’t think the vote-recorder streamlined the process enough to be useful, but it’s possible they weren’t too keen on speeding things up in the first place. If the officials didn’t voice their votes aloud, there wouldn’t be any opportunity to filibuster policies or persuade each other to switch their stances—an integral part of congressional proceedings.

Edison, of course, recovered from his first flop. He went on to invent (or at least improve upon) the light bulb, create the cat video, and devise many more notable creations.