SLAC and the WWW

Chances are you cannot imagine life without the world wide web, but did you know that SLAC and high-energy physics can claim a role in making the web truly worldwide?

In the fall of 1990 Tim Berners-Lee at CERN started working on a hypertext graphical-user interface (GUI) browser/editor which he dubbed "WorldWideWeb," a name that was later expanded to refer to what we now know as "the web." A year later, in the fall of 1991, Berners-Lee showed his project to Paul Kunz of SLAC, a fellow NeXT enthusiast. When Paul returned to SLAC he showed it to Louise Addis in the SLAC Library. Paul and Louise immediately saw the tool's potential to allow members of the particle physics community easier access to SPIRES, a heavily used database of scientific literature. Kunz and Addis, with the help of other enthusiastic SLAC staff, set to work, and on December 12, 1991 the first web site in North America was up and running at SLAC. This web site revealed the potential of the web to particle physicists, and from there it spread to the entire world.

SLAC's web site was later referred to by Sir Tim Berners-Lee as the “killer app” for the world wide web.

More Information

Materials in the SLAC Archives & History Office

  • Accession 2000-072: A Special Collection of material relating to the creation of SLAC's World Wide Web site
  • Accession 2009-024: NeXT computer and accessories used by Paul Kunz as original production web server
  • Accession 2007-045: NeXT computer, accessories, and manuals for an early web server used by Paul Kunz and Louise Addis