back to article WWW = Woeful, er, winternet wendering? CERN browser rebuilt after 30 years barely recognizes modern web

In preparation for next month's 30th anniversary of the proposal that gave us the world wide web, boffins at the behest of CERN have recreated the world's first web browser, and made it accessible as a modern web page. Created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the ur-browser, first called WorldWideWeb, and later Nexus, was built from …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    No https for you

    It doesn't take long to run into a brick wall. Not even the GDPR version of USA Today works. NPR does though as does the BBC.

    Oddly enough, with ye olde formatting, the BBC site shows how we're being treated as simpletons with sentence-length paragraphs.

    1. Bush_rat

      Re: No https for you

      But, as everyone should know, The Register works perfectly, minus an overly long list of links before the body of the article.

      1. zuckzuckgo

        Re: The Register works perfectly

        Actually improved the presentation.

    2. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

      Re: No https for you

      The Telegraph and many other websites use single-sentence paragraphs, a usage condemned by my schoolmasters in the late 1950s. The BBC remain fixated on visual content: they would rather bore you with a five-minute audio-video than give you text you could read in a few seconds. The only site I use regularly that writes proper paragraphs is the Spectator.

      1. Cederic

        Re: No https for you

        At least the BBC now offer a one paragraph description of what's in the video. When that's their sole reporting of a topic/issue/incident then it at least gives me enough information to find out more from a real news source.

        I had to complain multiple times when they were publishing just a headline and video.

        Next on my hitlist: BBC news channels (inc. BBC Worldwide) spending a quarter of their time telling me to go to the BBC news website for more information, thus missing the obvious point that if I had access to the internet I wouldn't need to rely on their shitty TV programming to catch up with current affairs.

    3. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: No https for you

      Oddly enough, with ye olde formatting, the BBC site shows how we're being treated as simpletons with sentence-length paragraphs.

      Oh, I noticed that even with the flashy reliance on vidclips which say in 30 odd seconds of video less than a one sentence paragraph.

      BBC news reads more like 'John Cravens' Newsround - actually that, back in the day would watch like indepth current affairs analysis today, by comparison.

      1. myhandler

        Re: No https for you

        The entirety of Beeb news is disappearing down the pan.

        Web as above.

        TV as above.

        Much as it pains me I prefer Sky on Freeview TV now, plus Channel 4 of course.

        Graun is very clicky baity too.

        They don't realise they've shot themselves in the foot.

        1. The First Dave

          Re: No https for you

          Downvoted purely for prefering Sky to anything

    4. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: No https for you

      The Times works too, although I didn't try to log in ( I don't know what this service is doing with POST'd data )

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: No https for you

        Not that I care, but a downvote? For that? Moron.

    5. toejam13

      Re: No https for you

      Depreciated crypto support is what keeps most older browsers from working anymore. Netscape and Mosaic are out. Same for most browsers still around prior to 2010. Probably not a bad thing from a security standpoint.

      If nostalgia does has you firing up Windows 9x/ME, the only thing that still partially works is Opera 9.6 (requires KernelEx to be installed). It supports TLS 1.2, but not ECDHE ciphers, so it is slowly being rendered obsolete as well.

      FWIW, The Reg mostly loads with this setup, save for some images on the front page.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: No https for you

        Depreciated crypto support

        Indeed, it's depreciated so much that it's been deprecated, and in some cases discarded entirely.

        The www user agent doesn't have any cryptography at all. SSLv1, which was never released outside Netscape, wasn't invented until some three years after the initial www release; SSLv2 came out in 1995, and v3 in '96.

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: No https for you

        If nostalgia does has you firing up Windows 9x/ME, the only thing that still partially works is Opera 9.6 (requires KernelEx to be installed). It supports TLS 1.2, but not ECDHE ciphers, so it is slowly being rendered obsolete as well.

        I expect if you patched it with the third-party patches that have been developed over the years (sometimes collectively known as Win98 'Third Edition') you might get more modern browsers to work. Never been worth my time to try it out myself, I'd rather experiment on ReactOS.

  2. JLV Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Cue a certain commentard about NO 3D FLATSO AND NO STUPID JAVASCRIPT!!!

    Seriously, that is an iconic piece of tech. Esp considering how many times folk before Sir Tim broke their teeth on hyperlinking concepts and overdesigned intellectual masturbations inspired by the original Vannevar Bush vision.

    And even the rendering shortcomings need context: imagine forward-reading most other tech data formats 25 years and 4 versions ahead. Most software struggles at backward compatibility on past formats.

  3. elDog Silver badge

    And the content has not improved since then.

    Some would say the presentation is the message (Marshall McLuhan?) but I'm not sure all those cascading styles and devious scripts have improved the experience much either.

    Now, looking for my parchment, quill, and some squid ink.

    1. Grikath Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: And the content has not improved since then.

      dear sir, I think you'll find oak gall and roasted rust to be more effective and more permanent than mere squid ink....

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: And the content has not improved since then.

        Pfft. Limestone and a copper chisel.

        1. David Harper 1

          Re: And the content has not improved since then.

          Your limestone inscriptions won't survive acid rain. Baked clay tablets are the real long-term solution. Ancient Babylonian web pages are still readable after more than 2000 years. Now, where's my cuneiform-to-English dictionary ...

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: And the content has not improved since then.

            Probably because the Fertile Crescent isn't earthquake-prone. Ceramics are notoriously brittle. Even brick has limits.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: And the content has not improved since then.

              Useful advice in terms of a general guideline, but it's not set in stone

              1. Stevie Silver badge

                Re: And the content has not improved since then.

                Bah! Knotted string is the way forward!

                1. TheRealRoland

                  Re: And the content has not improved since then.

                  Two tin cans, length of string, and a person at either end with a very good memory. If you have multiple people at either end willing to sit in, you can customize the voice a bit.

                  I see a new market emerge...

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: And the content has not improved since then.

                    Two tin cans, length of string, and a person at either end with a very good memory.

                    Ah, you mean the IBM Poughkeepsie internet. Except on some days their string gets wet.

                2. zuckzuckgo

                  Re: Knotted string is the way forward!

                  Knot so. To susceptible to string overflow attacks.

                3. Francis Boyle Silver badge

                  Re: And the content has not improved since then.

                  Just remember to store the specification documents in a safe place.

                  1. MRC1980

                    Re: And the content has not improved since then.

                    FTFY

                    Just remember to Quipu the specification documents in a safe place.

            2. Paul Herber

              Re: And the content has not improved since then.

              Use many planets' magnetic fields, either just on or off or shift the N/S poles. That would never happen naturally. Ok, it might take a long time to swap your 0/1 but that's fine for REALLY long-term storage. Maybe some alien species is doing this with us already. We are a currently a 0. We are becoming at 1 with everything.

          2. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: And the content has not improved since then.

            Funny thing, they didn't routinely bake tablets. The Library of Nineveh was (partly) preserved by the fire that destroyed the palace, this was hot enough to bake them, allowing them to survive millenia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Ashurbanipal. The same fire also ruined many of the reliefs, limestone and gypsum not coping well with heat, so swings and roundabouts. A sample of the tablets is in the British Museum's Ashurbanipal exhibition (though it finishes this week I think). What's astonishing about them (other than their age) is how dense the information is, cuneiform really let scribes pack things together, so many of the tablets are surprisingly small.

            (That exhibition also made very clear to me the reality of those gaps in translations of the Epic of Gilgamesh. They've got an example of each of the twelve tablets, which are, again, surprisingly small, and in some there'll simply be two pieces with a large triangular third fragment missing.)

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Eh, it's pre-CSS

    You'll get a similar look if you do View -> Page Style -> No Style on a page.

    > people were quite happy to write HTML by hand

    Most of my technical notes are handwritten HTML, as it's a universal format that's read by anything including my phone, an xterm, or a Raspberry Pi when things are deep in the shit and I need to figure out how to do GRUB commands and make my main box boot again.

    code/bold/italic tags are just enough style/distinction to get it done.

    I do remember seeing the first version of Mosaic that did image tags. I think it just did gif and that was it... or am I senile already?

    1. mrtom84

      Re: Eh, it's pre-CSS

      Markdown might be an even better fit if all you want to do is show formatted documents. The benefit being that even without something to render it it is still perfectly legible as a text file. Also you can put raw HTML in to a markdown document IIRC

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Eh, it's pre-CSS

        The benefit being that even without something to render it it is still perfectly legible as a text file

        This is also true of HTML, if you write it properly.

    2. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: Eh, it's pre-CSS

      I think it just did gif and that was it... or am I senile already?

      GIF and X bitmaps. The latter was a textual image format common on the X11 window system at the time, really like a C header file that contains the bits in an initialized array, and #define:s giving the dimensions. So you could #include the file in your C program, and pass the array to a X11 drawing routine!

    3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Eh, it's pre-CSS

      ..and now your average web page weighs more than the shareware distribution of "Doom"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eh, it's pre-CSS

        '..and now your average web page weighs more than the shareware distribution of "Doom"'

        which was why the comment in the article about modern web pages being "compressed into a compact form to save space" confused me

        1. bpfh Bronze badge
          Coat

          Re: Eh, it's pre-CSS

          Starting with the page code that can be helped with HTTP compression options, but then you get the images, which may not be much (though i've seen too many 4 meg jpeg's being forced down to 200 x 300 pixel window), then you add a couple of hundred kb of minified jquery, then a gazillion js includes for all the tracking and stats libraries under the sun, plus google tag library as someone has realised that their website is so locked down that the only way they can publish content to their own website is using an external system, chewing through your data package....only finally after 2 seconds to run about 10 redirects to tell you that you are the billionth visitor to this website and you have won a free copy of viking nazi zombies rape and pilliage if you click here and subscribe to a 50 quid a week game plan, and cannot get back to the actual bloody content you wanted to read in the first place...

          Yep, the web has come a long way since when I started in 1994. Get off my lawn and take your fucking fake arsed download buttons and autoplay video ads with you.

          Mine's the one with my mate's diskette of racey animated GIF's in the pocket.. I swear it's my mates. I'd never look at such stuff, of course.

      2. Antonius_Prime

        RE: ...and now your average web page weighs more than the shareware distribution of "Doom"

        And is probably 100 times more demonic...

        Gone are the days when all I had to worry about was dodging some scum-sucking Incubbus flinging fireballs.

        Nowdays its dodging scum-sucking aggregator sites flinging click-bait...

        Gimmie the Demons again, they showed mercy!

        1. bpfh Bronze badge

          Re: RE: ...and now your average web page weighs more than the shareware distribution of "Doom"

          For one you have the Big Fucking Gun. For the other , well, I really wish it was a God Dammned Plasma Rifle...

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: RE: ...and now your average web page weighs more than the shareware distribution of "Doom"

          Gimmie the Demons again, they showed mercy!

          Then your GM isn't doing their job..

          No mercy! Death to player characters! After suitable torture of course..

  5. Chris Gray 1
    Thumb Up

    Works fine...

    Works fine on my site, except for not showing the pictures, which is most of what's there....

    (I'm a stubborn old fart who built his site by hand - no scripting and no CSS.)

    Having links not work is *very* painful, though.

    (And, no, I'm not pointing you lot to my website - its behind a cable modem, so is quite slow if more than one person uses it.)

    (And I'm not giving a prize to anyone who bothers to figure out where it is.)

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Works fine...

      "no scripting and no CSS"

      My hat is off to you, good sir, for carrying on the noble fight!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Works fine...

      Hyperlinks work just fine. Double-click, instead of single-click.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Works fine...

        They don't resolve, though. I can fetch pages from my website via the 'Fetch document' menu item (and they display quite well), but following any links gives 'This site has caused a finangle' error.

    3. JLV Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Works fine...

      So, I know it's fashionable hereabouts to criticize CSS and that my opinion will be as welcome as a Polish plumber at Jacob Rees-Mogg's fox-hunting shindig. But IMHO you are blaming bad workmanship on the hammers rather than on the carpenters.

      I don't claim to code html by hand. I ain't no flannel&Birkenstock-wearing vegan hipster either and, though I never used punchcards, one of my college buddies did during his internship (at Raytheon, might explain Patriot's dud performance in Gulf War 1). My background is database and code generation. In my case, I introspect SQL table structures, generate html templates on the fly and then throw SELECTs into them to render data in nice little html tables. Add a column? Don't really care, the template will be regenerated and it will just work.

      I've always been told how important it is to separate data from its representation and formatting. CSS allows me to do precisely that. For example I can class the appropriate <td> or <th> with a ".key" class indicating this fields is a key field for that (SQL) table. And the visual representation can be left to someone fluent in CSS. Table sizing and placement? Ditto.

      Defining a formal formatting domain specific language is hard and, IMHO, CSS is mostly pretty successful at it. A lot of non-HTML programs allow user-defined formatting via... CSS because, well, it makes sense. That's not to say CSS's easy, that I am good at it or even that I would want to be.

      I also notice that a lot of the newer website DO render with all JS turned off and that the days of Flash-only or JS-only abominations are receding (NoScript makes me well aware of those). More and more we are seeing progressive enhancement instead: view-only works just fine with JS turned off . One interesting trend is the use of static website generators to replace Wordpress and a large part of what enables this type of approach is being able to rely on CSS to precisely define what a site looks like.

      Not everyone has adapted and a lot of web devs and designers are still building crap sites. On that we both agree. But the top of the crop _are_ impressive at working with their medium. Certainly they, and their stack, impress me a lot more than J2EE devs and their stack.

      But, hey, if you want to insist on moving kids offa our lawns, that's cool by me too.

      </rant>

      1. Trilkhai

        Re: Works fine...

        I think that in cases like showing database contents, CSS is fine... The problem is when it's used to produce static documents instead. I periodically become frustrated enough with the number of errors in e-books I'm reading that I'll take the time to fix the problems myself (removing DRM if needed), and the auto-generated CSS in there is almost always an absolute nightmare to deal with. The most jaw-dropping I recall encountering a couple of years ago was one really sluggish book that turned out to have every single character placed in a separate [span class="text"] element, sometimes with multiple font-formatting spans overlapping them so that using search-and-replace resulted in the formatting change applying to far more text than it should've been. (I eventually gave up with that one and downloaded a pirated copy that had more reasonable code.)

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Works fine...

          Sounds to me like a case of CSS being used improperly. Done lean, mean, and only one per tag, it should be no more irksome than pre-CSS HTML with the benefit that style definitions are up at the HEAD of the page (which is where it should be according to the CSS's goals). I've used CSS a bit myself with a little local scripting (to show and hide language-sensitive text), and you can still get a nice, lean result using CSS. It's just like anything else: it can be abused.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Works fine...

            "it should be no more irksome than pre-CSS HTML "

            That depends on exactly what you're doing. I think that CSS has pretty much utterly failed at being able to replace using the table tag for doing grid formatting, for example. Functionality was lost, and that lost functionality made websites worse.

            There are advantages to CSS, of course, but on the whole, I'm not convinced that the adopting of CSS was a good thing. At best, it was neutral, simply trading one set of problems for another.

        2. JLV Silver badge

          Re: Works fine...

          +1 I agree with you that there is some truly awful CSS out there. And that the people who created that ebook need a new career (would streetsweeper be over their skill?).

          But if we are to take the idea that digital documents are to replace paper ones, what are the non-CSS candidates to minutely specify display formatting? Postcript, Latex, PDF? The first 2 are not easy to wrap your head around (and have that pesky habit of embedding format into content). The 3rd (a wrapper around Postcript calls, wasn't it?) is a security mess. Oh, and it needs to allow for multiple display device sizes and capability.

          By all means, call out tar and feather the offenders in the bad CSS gallery. But if someone wants to ban CSS, then I believe they ought to provide an alternative. And telling all of the rest of us to just go back to reading documents in ASCII form? Well, that's good and well for them to say, and they are welcome to that attitude. I resent it when they try to foist on me however. It's one thing to be a curmudgeon or a Luddite and jokingly, or seriously, spurn technological solutions used by others. It's another entirely to take one's rant seriously and try to impose one's views onto others. Never works well in our industry.

          @JohnFen - CSS wasn't mean to replace <table> in its actual, correct, semantic use. But it was developed partially in response to the needs evidenced by pages using <table> extensively to position content that was not semantically cell-like in nature. Replacing a real table with CSS is daft (but can be done to an extent), doesn't mean CSS is overall a failure.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: Works fine...

            "if we are to take the idea that digital documents are to replace paper ones, what are the non-CSS candidates to minutely specify display formatting?"

            I'm confused. I've never seen CSS used for document formatting outside of the web pages. Literally every digital replacement for paper documents I see are PDFs.

            "@JohnFen - CSS wasn't mean to replace <table> in its actual, correct, semantic use. But it was developed partially in response to the needs evidenced by pages using <table> extensively to position content that was not semantically cell-like in nature."

            Yes, I know. I was referring to the use for formatting, not the use for actually displaying tables.

          2. Tomato Krill

            Re: Works fine...

            "But if someone wants to ban CSS, then I believe they ought to provide an alternative. And telling all of the rest of us to just go back to reading documents in ASCII form? Well, that's good and well for them to say, and they are welcome to that attitude. I resent it when they try to foist on me however."

            Sir I believe you have crafted the most perfect Brexit metaphor I have yet seen

    4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Works fine...

      (I'm a stubborn old fart who built his site by hand - no scripting and no CSS.)

      I think I created some early web pages in WordPerfect 6.x (maybe 7.x, too long ago now).

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Barry Rueger Silver badge

    Sigh. Those were the days.

    I was thinking this weekend about what the web was when I first got onto it - something like twenty+ years ago. Checking out a few familiar sites with this browser reminds me how good it was.

    The Internet before advertising, before video, before CSS and javascript, was a pretty special place. Because no-one was trying to monetize it - and lord knows there were long and impassioned debates about that subject -- almost everything on-line was a labour of love. That meant that content trumped style.

    Because pages only included HTML and images they were simple, and they loaded fast - even on dial-up, which was all that most people had. More to the point, if any page had half as much useless crap and stuttering delays as we're used to now it would also find that it had no visitors.

    And because there was no money to be made, you didn't have Google and Facebook controlling great swathes of the 'net, and you certainly didn't need to worry about being spied on and tracked.

    For my money the Internet peaked about ten or twelve years ago when Google was just a very good search engine, when Amazon was just a really good bookstore, and when web pages were about words and stories, not videos and cheap effects. Over the last year or so I'm struggling to understand what the point of the Internet is anymore. Even simple tasks have become way, way too hard, and there seem to be barriers in every direction to things that used to be simple.

    Maybe because we actually did write web pages by hand, in notepad, we also felt obliged to really think about what we were creating. All that I know is that using the Internet has become a chore, not the delight that it was two decades ago.

    1. Martin 33

      Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

      Remember when Yahoo wasn't so much a search engine as link site. Looking for a computer site, here is a list of them. Looking for a news site, here is a list of links.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

        Unfortunately that's what made them realise that there was a lot of money to be made by ordering the list in relation to the amount that someone would pay to be at the top.

      2. nagyeger

        Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

        Remember when there were books (you know, those things with paper) that told people about all "the best" websites?

      3. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

        I remember when if you wanted Yahoo to include your site you had to write to them to get it put on.

      4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

        Remember when Yahoo wasn't so much a search engine as link site

        Yes, Yahoo!'s original claim to fame was their knowledge model, which if memory serves was an implementation of a model invented for the PhD dissertation of one of the original employees. For the first several years the site was a human-curated collection of links organized around that model, which was hierarchical but threaded (linked across the hierarchy to provide alternate paths).

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

      I fondly remember sites which knew they'd take ages to load over dial-up, and had some sort of distraction to keep you occupied while the main site loaded. My favourite, although I can't remember which site it was, gave you a little Breakout game to play while the rest was loading

    3. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

      I trace the decline of the Web - and the Internet in general -- to the rise of so-called 'push' technology in the mid to late 90s. Before this webpages gave you the information you asked for, maybe with a couple of advertisements but really 'just the facts'. Once 'push' took over marketing everything went crazy because it was really about downloading stuff onto your computer -- suddenly it wasn't "your" computer, it belonged to anyone who could con you into letting them have at it. It wasn't just the webpages that were bothersome, the rather flawed user model that presumed that a web browser was the same as the person using it allowed a conduit for all sorts of malware. The various solutions to this problem haven't addressed the fundamental issue -- push technology -- but instead have applied successive layers of Band Aids to mask the problems. The result is a seething cesspit of bloat and inefficiency (and its not just the browsers -- communication is also abused, clagging up the Internet with needless traffic).

      Still, as we all know, you can't say 'No' to Marketing. You just put up and shut up and eventually if you're luck you get to retire (and bit a fond farewell to the lot of 'em).

      BTW -- I would like to reserve a special place in Hell for whoever thought it was a good idea to incorporate web elements into email.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

        I would like to reserve a special place in Hell for whoever thought it was a good idea to incorporate web elements into email.

        I don't know what you're talking about. I will classify this snippet as "nonsense", that's what I do with the various claims I receive stating that the newest info was in blinking red bold MSComicSans as opposed to the superceded info which was in blue strikedthrough boring old Arial, and how can I not have seen the difference?

        Email is for text. Information is most efficiently conveyed through articulate sentences.

    4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Sigh. Those were the days.

      I was thinking this weekend about what the web was when I first got onto it

      I've just ordered a regrade of my home internet connection to G.fast (anticipated 220/15 Mbit) - my first full-time internet connection was two channels of ISDN (BT Home Highway - you paid a monthly fee for connection but nothing for bandwidth or connection time so I just connected and left it connected - this was on my old Demon Internet link). A whole 128K!

      Mind you, that was an improvement on the 33K modem I'd had before that did dial-on-demand.

      Things have changed somewhat since..

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    When will they release this as a standalone version? This browser is faster at navigating news.google.com than Firefox with uBlock installed, Javascript disabled, doesn't crash.... and that's a heck of a lot more than my Sony E-Reader running (Sony) Android will do.

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      You might want to try a current minimalist web browser (qutebrowser is my current fav in the GUI league, but plenty are available).

    2. crystallake

      https://browsers.evolt.org/ has most of the original browsers. I installed mosaic (spyglass-I think) a few years ago on Windows Vista and it worked. WorldWideWeb(Nexus) is at bottom of list.

    3. Ogi
      Thumb Up

      I actually use links2 with X11 driver from time to time, when I just want the web simple and fast (but with pictures). I find it works a treat, and can even load up web pages that are behind paywalls (not sure why, perhaps they think it is a web spider bot, or the lack of JS means they can't load up the page-blocking code).

      Alas, more and more websites just don't work on it at all. Amazing how many sites, when you don't have JS, just load up a blank page and nothing more. Apparently the idea of "degrading gracefully" has gone out the window in the last 10 or so years.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        Alas, more and more websites just don't work on it at all.

        My policy for these is pretty much the same as it has been for decades regarding "your bowser doesn't support this website, please switch to [browser]" websites. In 2 words, rhyming with Duck Goo.

        When a contact info is available, I also fire off an email to the webmaster to the same effect - phrased in more polite terms.

  10. cam

    "Maybe because we actually did write web pages by hand, in notepad, we also felt obliged to really think about what we were creating. All that I know is that using the Internet has become a chore, not the delight that it was two decades ago."

    Still using Notepad, although did upgrade to Notepad++ along the way. My simple site works fine, images aside. I got quite savvy with trimming down a few wordpress templates for a while, and managed to get jquery almost speedy. My site calls an html5 file, a css file, and that's it. The only external content is Google Analytics for simple stats. Pages are in the 50K to 150K range, with images.

    I think the 'chore' to which you refer is 33% cloud services, 33% one size fits all websites with poor secondary web dev efficiency (thinking wordpress templates, jquery, multiple css calls), and 33% ads and spam.

    The Internet is now a war between ad makers and ad blockers. Between those forcing useless content ahead of those struggling to get their useful content out there. Ok, so there are sites that force ads if you want to use them, but getting spammed video ads just for visiting (every time) is beyond the pale. The Internet was created for info sharing, and those willing to give their info freely have been drowned out by those that want to make a living from it.

    Online news sites are no different. A couple of years back, I did a small survey of all the major new titles and the requests of all but a couple were more than 50% ads or trackers. If ads, spam and adult material disappeared from the Internet for a week, the lack of traffic would make the Internet a place of wonder, and we would demand it permanently banned when it resumed (well maybe not the last one...I'm not completely naive :D ).

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      The only external content is Google Analytics for simple stats.

      Don't let your site become a tentacle on the Google octopus...

      List of web analytics software

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Pages are in the 50K to 150K range, with images."

      Anyone remember when web image optimisers were a thing? These days it seems few people even understand that there are image compression levels let alone how to use them.

  11. joeW

    "a time before commerce came online"

    Well ACKSHULLY....

    https://gizmodo.com/remember-how-the-first-thing-ever-sold-online-was-a-bag-1708799689

  12. Archtech Silver badge

    Meets the original spec

    You have to bear in mind that the original goal of the WWW was simply to let people jump into online documents, wherever they might be stored, instead of having to write down references and then try to find a copy of the document.

    As the fine article points out, there were no plans for images, let alone making huge piles of money.

    Which is why many of us feel so nostalgic.

  13. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    Interestingly,

    it does look like an effort to demo NeXTCube's capabilities more than a push for unified communication. Fair game, I'd say, but it does show that the www was designed with fanciness in mind, rather than universality or efficiency. Plus ça change...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Interestingly,

      I don't think the Next's GUI was that far way from TWM and Motif on UNIX, and other hardware of the time (Amiga, ST, Classic Mac) ended up with web browsers of one description or another by the mid 90s, which I guess is understandable as that's when home access took off.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        Re: Interestingly,

        I don't think the Next's GUI was that far way from [the competion]

        True, but my point is that Tim went for the Shiny factor (Robert, who designed the underlying mechanisms, did get along with it)

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Interestingly,

          I see no shiny, just different windows with different documents being rendered inside them and dialog boxes. Seems pretty standard X Window-like stuff to me. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

          1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

            Re: Interestingly,

            If you see no shiny, perhaps you don't remember what user interfaces looked like at the time.

            On a sidenote, I don't adhere to the passive-agressive "we'll have to agree to disagree" motto. I am able to admit that I am wrong without holding a grudge, just prove me so. Halting a constructive discussion by saying, in essence, "I think you're wrong but I won't bother telling you why" always strikes me as unconstructive and borderly insulting.

            1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

              Re: Interestingly,

              Note that my intention was not to diss XWindow, in fact I'm (in)famous among my friends for using twm as my default desktop environment (until recently I've been using a Raspberry 2B as my main work machine for over 2 years, because with my settings it was -much- snappier than the MSWindows tower I was given, but that's a story for another day)

            2. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Interestingly,

              Okay, here's why you're wrong. I remember the GUIs of 1987, it does not look out of the ordinary or special in any way.

              It's difficult to tell the difference between the Next's GUI that we saw here and what was on UNIX, same menus, practically the same window decorations. Rending a text document in a window with clickable words and a context menu is nothing amazing. The Next's GUI might have been better at inter-process communication and drag and drop than UNIX but here we're just looking at the browser.

              Other late 80s hardware aimed at the home or smaller business did eventually get browser software in the mid 90s when the Internet became more mainstream and again the browser software used the GUI toolkit available on those systems.

              We will have to agree to disagree because I believe there is no shiny (and I did use image search and YouTube just to check and refresh my memory on what was available on UNIX, Mac, ST, Amiga, and even Archimedes) and you believe there is shiny.

              1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

                Re: Interestingly,

                Well I agree with you. I'm of similar vintage and used various GUI libraries at the time, and yes it looks essentially identical to a couple of the standard ones at the time.

              2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
                WTF?

                Re: Interestingly,

                We will have to agree to disagree because I believe there is no shiny (and I did use image search and YouTube just to check and refresh my memory on what was available on UNIX, Mac, ST, Amiga, and even Archimedes) and you believe there is shiny.

                OK so you do think I'm unable to change my mind when presented with evidence.

                I will gladly admit, in the face of evidence, that my recollection of this era's user interfaces was biased (influenced by previous GUIs and by the fact that I did not interract much with GUIs at the time, mostly command line).

                Why do you insist that we will have to disagree ?

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Interestingly,

            I see no shiny, just different windows with different documents being rendered inside them and dialog boxes

            And CERN also released the command-line www user agent, which had no shiny whatsoever.

            I'd call WorldWideWeb / Nexus a pretty minimal GUI front end for www. It appears to be using the standard NeXTSTEP controls, so from an application-development point of view, it approaches minimal possible fanciness for a GUI application.

    2. Miss Config
      Holmes

      Re: Interestingly,

      Dammit if only I could remember who invented that NexT computer.

      Name must be lost to history. ( It's certainly lost to this thread. )

      If only someone would invent a way of looking her up.

    3. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

      Re: Interestingly,

      nah, he just had, and worked on intensively, a NeXT box so that's what he used.

  14. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    Not by hand

    I never did agree with formatting things by hand, starting with Digital Standard Runoff on VAX computers. Almost any word processor is preferable to Tex/Latex. I use a WYSIWYG html editor for creating and cleaning up documents: it removes multiple spaces, makes multiple newlines easy to remove, and supports body text, headings, lists, and tables. It produces what I call "simple html".

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: Not by hand

      I don't use LaTEX very much myself, I tend to favor Lout (by Jeffrey H. Kingston from down under) ; despite its limitations, it does pretty much everything I want for print, in a (much) smaller package.

      As for "simple html", as you put it, you may want to try AFT from Todd Coram.

      On a separate note, in my experience unwanted spaces or newlines are "features" of WYSIWYG tools, I've never seen them in WYSIWYM tools. Unless you deliberately code extra spaces or newlines in, that is.

    2. David Harper 1

      Re: Not by hand

      "Almost any word processor is preferable to Tex/Latex."

      I'm guessing you don't write anything that contains mathematical equations, which is where TeX and LaTeX excel. (Pun very definitely intended.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not by hand

        "Almost any word processor is preferable to Tex/Latex."

        ... and you've probably not heard of kerning or ligatures and don't understand that adding a single word to a sentence should be able to cause a book to be completely reformatted to improve the overall formatting quality (or, more correcty, reduce badness).

        Also, you may well be one of the majority of Word users who see it as a "magic typewriter" and add spaces (or worse tabs) and linebreaks to align everything and have no concept fo the ideas of document structure being orthogonal to document appearance that is inherent in TeX/LaTeX.

        That said ... I've not used LaTeX for years - but I've never felt any word processor comes close to it (apart from the perhaps immediacy of the WSYSIG view - though with PC speeds now then the time to spin a doc through TeX and bring the result up in a viewer should be pretty quick as I used emTeX on a 386 20+ years ago and it wasn't too bad then for this)

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          Re: Not by hand

          "... and you've probably not heard of ..."

          I am well aware of those things. You, perhaps, are unfamiliar with themes and styles in MS Word.

          Also, perhaps, unfamiliar with the proverb: "The best is enemy of the good". MS Word and Libre Office Word can produce structured documents of office quality. If I want kerning and ligatures I will use Lyx or a 60-day trial I have of Quark Express.

          1. ibmalone Silver badge

            Re: Not by hand

            LyX is nice: write LaTeX without having to keep track of every last {}. I'd still be using it if I worked with people who were happy to use diff rather than track changes.

            (Actually, maybe gitlab's pretty diff is good enough now, hmm...)

          2. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

            Re: Not by hand

            MS Word has kerning. Both positive and negative.

            Ditto ligatures, which are a document-wide Option/setting. From either 2000 or 2007, IIRC.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Not by hand

              MS Word has kerning

              True, for sufficiently terrible values of "kerning".

          3. Trilkhai

            Re: Not by hand

            OpenOffice also has kerning options & ligatures built in — doesn't LibreOffice?

          4. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

            Re: Not by hand

            themes and styles in MS Word.

            The features that are consistently inconsistent in large structured documents, almost impossible to re-use between documents of differing sizes and structures ? I've heard of those, used them even. I now stay way clear off them.

            If I want kerning and ligatures I will use Lyx

            LyX is a front-end to LaTeX, which pretty much negates your whole argument.

    3. myarse

      Re: Not by hand

      I take it you've never been infected with the &nbsp virus, completely destroys your formatting.

      1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

        Re: Not by hand

        "...never been infected..."

        nbsp is something I replace during html editing -- I do use the 'edit html' screen as well as the WYSIWYG screen. I get a lot of nbsp in html articles saved from the web; some are introduced when the author has been correcting typos, some seem to be put in especially in documents created on Apple machines, and others seem to be house style policies.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Not by hand

      I've never seen a WYSIWYG word processor. I've had the misfortune of having to use a number of WYGIWYG1 word processors, though, from Wordstar through Volkswriter and Multiplan to Word Perfect and a zillion horrible incarnations of Microsoft Word.

      The various generations of Word Perfect came closest to making it reasonably possible to get something close to the desired output. They were still inferior to troff and LaTeX2e, though.

      1What You Get Is What You Get. Suck it up, user.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How far we've come...

    ...both good and bad.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ironic that it doesn't work with IE 11

    ... as is increasingly the case with half the web

    1. Killfalcon Silver badge

      Re: Ironic that it doesn't work with IE 11

      I came here to say that. I'm neither complaining nor surprised!

  17. Jonjonz

    Todays WWW is all behind HTTPS

    I had tried running Lynx, the text based browser recently, it ran fine, but almost all sites now use https, which Lynx has no clue on how to deal with it.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Todays WWW is all behind HTTPS

      Lynx works just fine with HTTPS.

      You need OpenSSL installed, and it to be compiled with that knowledge, but it works - I use it all the time on SSL sites.

      Looking around, that's been the same since the late 2000's at the very least.

  18. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    but.. what? how?

    "the ur-browser,"

    Innit weird , you learn a new word ,or fact , and then it pops up all the time.

    I only learned of the ur- prefix meaning "original" yesterday from a link in the comments of the reg's Buffy article.

    Now here it is again!

    1. TomPhan

      Re: but.. what? how?

      Now you need to look up Baader-Meinhof.

    2. Nifty

      Re: but.. what? how?

      From Ur to Rome....

  19. 20i Richard

    Is the spelling mistake deliberate?

    "The WWW project does not take responsability..." Was that in the original browser? Maybe it was before we had spellcheckers...

    1. NLCSGRV

      Re: Is the spelling mistake deliberate?

      Or even spelling checkers ;)

  20. sisk Silver badge

    It handles most sites better than I expected it to. Then again I had really low expectations, so, you know, perspective. Interestingly, it handles El Reg quite well. All the articles are completely legible aside from a long list of links at the top of the page.

  21. Eddy Ito Silver badge
    Pint

    I rather like it

  22. SteveHanson

    Well, that brings back memories

    I was the head UNIX admn at FERMILAB back in those days and we had a website that was only slightly newer than CERN's. Life was really different. I remember Tim sitting in my office on a visit one day when I told him I was not at all sure this World Wide Web thing was going to get traction - he didn't seem too sure at the time either. I don't think either of us had imagined what a difference better browsers would make, particularly the revolutionary idea of having pictures.

    In any case - this all looks familiar to some long-buried part of my brain. Life was so much simpler then.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Berners-Lee's WorldWideWeb code can't handle much"

    Speak for yerself lad! The public-facing websites that I've written in the last year and a half work a charm and look fav too, possibly even better than on a modern browser, relatively speaking.

    If it didn't blow my privacy out of the water I would love to show you. I'm so fucking proud! :o)

    Then again, I've been writing HTML since 1995, in the Mosaic days. Not as a web developer (as they latter came to be known), but as a plain developer. Back then we were all "full-stack" devs, I guess. You'd write your CGI stuff, in my case typically in C with embedded SQL as needed, and the static web pages were essentially part of the CGI's user interface aspect.

    It's difficult to realise, but I guess there is real value to "having been there", as opposed to tying to understand the importance of content / presentation separation purely from a theoretical perspective as anyone getting into web development this century necessarily does.

    Anyway, it's a testament to the fathers of HTML as well that I could still write something in 2018 that's compatible with early 90's tech.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Berners-Lee's WorldWideWeb code can't handle much"

      "Nowadays, web code tends to be difficult to read. It's often minified – compressed into a compact form to save space – or obfuscated – deliberately made obscure"

      A quick and reliable way to judge a front-end dev's quality¹ is to look at the source of his sites. Again, I apologise for not giving examples now, but basically with good devs you have a fantastic-looking, fast, pleasant and interactive site that you can still read without effort when viewing the source.

      An example I came across a few days ago was very much like (pretend those are not square brackets):

      [html lang=en]

      [title]Blah[/title]

      [link rel="stylesheet" href="style"]

      [header](A navigation list)[/header]

      [main]

      [h1]The Site[/h1]

      [section]

      [h2]About us, or whatever[/h2]

      [article]We're great, etc.[/article]

      [/section]

      [/main]

      [footer](Contact links, etc.)[/footer]

      [/html]

      His CSS was also very clean and, interestingly, even with the "modern" HTML tags, it still works just fine in the CERN browser.

      ¹ Assuming that he's under no imposed constraints, which can be tech, budget, time, etc.

  24. ecofeco Silver badge

    Of course it barely works on today's web

    Today's web is bloated fucking crap.

    The first thing I learned when building websites was to bum the script. Anyone remember what that means? It means to use as little "code" as possible to get the job done.

    Today, the headers of most websites are as big as the entire pages I used to make. Yes, that includes nice graphics. (because we knew how to optimize the images)

  25. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

    Read-Write Web vs Read-Only Web

    > One aspect of the original browser that got lost over time was that it was intended to be both a document viewer and editor.

    Heh. I got downvoted when I mentioned this recently.

    The wwweb's original intent was actually rather larger than what "editor" implies nowadays. The idea was that the protocol would have all the requisite intelligence designed into it such that it was wholly interactive. Without knowledge of code, just as you don't need knowledge of code to use the browser. But that turned out to be an absolute bear of a design problem, and the talking-shop was spinning out and lengthening interminably, and Berners-Lee just said sod it, we can at least have a proof of concept, at least of the read-only aspects.

    So that's what he did.

    And that's what we're all still using -- a read-only proofofconcept which turned out to be an MVP which subsequently has had a lot of client-side (and some serverside) code added to allow approximations of the original interactive intent.

  26. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

    Mosaic 0.8

    ...was my first browser. I was lecturing at uni and we got it direct via the academic grapevine. Alas the mac it was on disappeared in a storage cockup a few years ago.

    But same as THIS re-issue, it would still load and display web pages quite nicely, albeit without any of the javascript and css effects, as of about 5yrs ago.

  27. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge
    Happy

    Great error messages!

    "

    Internal Server Fangle

    The requested URL / was made this server go "no".

    "

  28. UncleDavid

    I have Internet Explorer 4 on Solaris

    I know it was only 21 years ago, but I recently dug out a CD of the first release of Internet Explorer 4 for UNIX (I was on the team at Microsoft) and ran the self-install on a Solaris 4 image using QEMU. IE started right up and looks exactly as it did when we released, doing a decent job with images. As someone has noted, you soon run into the fact that most of the web uses https.

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