The Early Web

1994 map of the early web 300

Interesting Internet sites in the UK, from a map published by PC Direct.

The web grew slowly in the UK in the early ’90s. The image above shows most of the sites considered to be interesting on the web in the UK by PC Direct in 1994. This is taken from a map in the collection {link}, which also included a number of Gopher sites. Apart from this corner of the map, the BBC’s fledgling online presence is also considered of interest.

It is worth noting the strong Welsh presence in this corner of the Internet. The Swansea physics department was one of the first UK Internet sites to have a web presence - a site about the local surfing scene. The Internet Archive has a copy of this from 1996. Cardiff university also featured a site which was ‘basically a search engine.’ The Cardiff Internet Movie Database, built from USENET posts to rec.arts.movies would later be rebranded as the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and bought by Amazon.com in 1998.

The Web and Swansea University

David Dunbar, a lecturer in theoretical physics, was visiting the theoretical particle physics group at ULCA for academic year 1993-94. The UCLA experimental particle physics group showed David their web pages and he installed web software on a SUN SPARC machine belonging to his host, the ULCA theoretical particle physics group.

David mentioned the web and his installation in emails with graduate students back in Swansea. On their own initiaitive, Peter Coyle (a PhD student of Ian Halliday) and, in particular, Chris Abrahams (a PhD student of Aled Williams) took an interest and installed the web on the Swansea particle physics group machine Python.

Abrahams was a keen surfer. His site for surfers was soon noticed by the public and so appeared on the Ziff-Davis Road Map of the Internet, 1994.The earliest found software found on the machine Python is HTTPD version 1.3.