A Brief History of HTML 1.0 and HTML 2.0

html 1.0 and html 2.0.jpgThe Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) was the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee, a particle physicist at the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) laboratories in Switzerland. At CERN in the late 1980s, Berners-Lee recognized that he needed to access a significant number of electronic documents on a regular basis; moreover, many of these documents referenced other documents. Berners-Lee was familiar with the Standardized General Markup Language (SGML), a method for coding the structure of electronic documents, which had been around since the early 1980s, but knew that it was too complex for what he wanted to do: code and link his documents. He wanted a system that would allow for the simple coding of such documents, a way to transfer those documents through their networks, and the capability to link documents. Berners-Lee developed HTML to code the documents and the HyperText Transport Protocol (HTTP) for moving those documents. His system was launched by CERN in 1991.

HTML 1.0

The first version of HTML was actually quite limited. It established the method of tags, elements, and attributes that are used today. The elements included in HTML 1.0 were title, anchor, isindex, plaintext, listing, paragraph, headings, address, highlighting, definition lists, unordered lists, and menus. The following three symbols were also
included: <, >, and &. Special characters (those you can’t type on a keyboard) were not.
This first version did not even include images. It was designed purely for displaying
and linking text-based documents in text-only browsers, as shown in the following

<TITLE>A sample HTML 1.0 document</TITLE>

<H1>Hello world!</H1>

<P>This is an example of a document written in HTML 1.0

<A href="next.html">next document</A>

As restricted as version 1.0 was, it was clear that HTML had great possibilities, and extensions for future HTML versions were quickly recommended. These included a body tag, document linking (not hyperlinks), dates, highlighting, base addresses, fixed-width text with anchors and indenting, ordered lists, link types, character entities (special characters), and comments. Many of these suggestions were addressed quickly. Others, like highlighting, would never appear in HTML (though they would later be implemented in cascading style sheets—CSS). As the Web and the first version of HTML became popular methods for presenting and linking data on the Internet, it became clear that the development of HTML was too large a project for one man to handle. Thus, further development of HTML was handed over to the recently formed organization, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international group created specifically to recommend standards for all Web-related technologies.


HTML 2.0

It took four years for the next version of HTML to gain approval by the W3C. The release of version 2.0, in 1996, proved that significant steps had been taken to implement many of the recommendations made following the release of the first version; in addition, many other new ideas had been incorporated, including:

■■The text/HTML mime type was added.
■■ HTML documents were specified as such with the <html> element, then divided into two sections by the <head> and <body> elements.
■■ Support for base addresses with the base attribute, and linked documents with the <link> attribute, were added.
■■ The capability to add descriptive information about the document through the <meta> element was added.
■■ Physical markup elements were added, including <pre>, <blockquote>, <ol>, <dir>, <b>, <i>, and <u>.
■■ Logical markup elements were added, including <cite>, <code>, <em>, <kbd>, <samp>, <strong>, and <var>.
■■ Content could be broken up using the <br> and <hr> elements.
■■ Using the <img> element, it became possible to insert graphic files into documents.
■■ Forms were added so that authors could collect information from their users, then process the submitted data.
■■ Character entities were added for inserting special characters into the content of a document.

In short, HTML 2.0 bore a close resemblance to the HTML we use today. Authors were given many more ways of formatting content visually, including the addition of images. This was important because graphical browsers such as NCSA Mosaic and Cello had started to come on the market. Clearly, now that browsers could render text in multiple ways, and display graphics, code was needed to take advantage of that software.

Following is a sample document written in HTML 2.0.



<TITLE>A sample HTML 2.0 document</TITLE>



<h1>Hello world!</h1>

<p>This is an example of a<br>document written in HTML 2.0


<pre>Here is some preformatted text.</pre>

<IMG src="Image.gif">

<a href="next.html">next document</a>

<p>&copy;1996, Michael Sauers



Still, authors wanted more from HTML; at the same time, browser makers decided that they didn’t want to wait for another standard to be developed, so the major browser makers (Microsoft and Netscape) decided to extend HTML on their own. This led to elements and attributes that were supported in one browser but not another. This only helped to further frustrate authors.

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