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Re: [ontolog-forum] Early Browser History and the Origin of Semantic Too

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Simon Spero <sesuncedu@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2012 00:32:49 -0400
Message-id: <CADE8KM4pM4DWaC6u1ZTT7iqiUqq-+_Z+itJxezEzkW_vNE=dfQ@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Sun, Apr 8, 2012 at 9:21 PM, John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
I have not said much about this. Maybe it's appropriate now. For this, I need to relate my view of the critical path to the current state of the industry. Your mileage may vary.

I have tried to get this put into wikipedia but it was removed on a few occasions. The rational was that it could not have occurred because it is not on the web. Later, I appealed to Jimbo, sending him 25 pages or documentation and early history on Silversmith, and he added a brief account into the history of the web browser and locked the page.

Some of this is not entirely in accord with my recollections of events.  The first public release of libwww was made in mid-1991. This release was available for general purpose unix platforms- however this library was ported to C  from objective C (or at least certain stylistic features of the API are consistent with this being true).  One of the main features of the library was extensible support accessing data from many different information systems, including FTP, Gopher, and WAIS.   There was relatively little content in HTML and HTTP at this time, but there was a consistent way for clients to access this other information. 

I believe that support for URLs is necessary characteristic of all web browsers. It may be argued that being related in some way to a URL is necessary for anything to be web related. 

The first browser that was capable of displaying graphical images (IMG tag) was NCSA Mozilla (see: http://1997.webhistory.org/www.lists/www-talk.1993q1/0182.html ).  Kevin Hughes, later a colleague at EIT, added imagemap functionality to server & client whilst still a student at Honolulu shortly thereafter.  I remember they were first used for a dinosaur exhibit. 

I think both IMG and image maps were supported in Viola by the World WIde Web Wizards Workshop in July 2003. 

XML was created by stripping features out of SGML that were hard to implement (SGML always gave the feeling of being a standard created in the same way that SMTP was - document the behavior of the sendmail/the IBM parser. )  The absence of omissible tags made XML much less suitable for use as an authoring language. 

Before whitehouse.gov was stood up, I used SGML on several occasions to mark up text for conversion of HTML and gopher; I used hand-scrawled perl scripts to do the parsing and output, as they many texts were received from the EOP with just a few hours before the embargo lifted. Easy to work with using emacs and a few macros. 


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