Linear Accelerator Center was the
first web site in North America, and also helped establish the first
web site in Asia.
Tim Berners-Lee released the first web browser
for the NeXT computer at CERN in
March, 1991. A few months later on September 13, Paul Kunz came to visit CERN
from the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in Stanford, California,
U.S.A. SLAC is also a high energy research laboratory located on 460 acres
a few miles
from the Stanford University campus, run by Stanford and funded by the US Department
of Energy, with a mission is to conduct basic physics research into the atomic
structure of matter using x-rays, electrons, and positrons.
Kunz was an instant convert to the web, and since he also used the NeXT computer,
he had the skills to use it. When he returned to SLAC in September, he brought
a copy of Berners-Lee's web browser and server with him. Working with Terry
Hung, they installed the server on the laboratory's IBM Virtual Machine operating
system, and the first web server in North America went live on December 12,
Louise Addis, the head librarian at SLAC, immediately saw the utility of the
web for providing access to the wealth of documentation produced by the laboratory.
She persuaded George Crane to write a web interface to SPIRES-HEP, a 300,000
record bibliographic database which SLAC made available to the high energy
physics community over the Internet. Soon a range of individual departments
in the laboratory put up their own home pages. Fermi
National Accelerator Laboratory put up a web site not long thereafter,
and the web began to spread throughout North America.
During the summer of 1992, Tony Johnson at SLAC created the third web browser
for Unix, called Midas. One of the innovations
of Midas was its ability to display postscript documents, which was the preferred
online format for physics researchers because it could be printed on most printers,
and it printed scientific formulae exactly as they were graphically displayed
on paper. Midas was made available on the Internet, and helped provide another
option for people to get onto the web.
SLAC's embrace of the web helped legitimize it in the physics community, and
provided it with a base from which it could grow. SLAC also helped establish
the first web site in China, at the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing.
WWW technical committee continues to hold open meetings a couple of times
a month to discuss technical issues related to web services at the center.