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An illustration from Tim Berners-Lee's original proposal for an organizational system using hyperlinks and a computer network--a system then referred to as the Mesh. The proposal preceded the Web's public debut by a couple of years.

Happy birthday, Web!

On August 6, 1991--20 years ago--Tim Berners-Lee posted a summary of a project for organizing information on a computer network using a "web" of hyperlinks: the "WorldWideWeb," or W3. At the same time, the W3 made its debut as a publicly available service on the Internet. Now, as the Web turns 20, those of us here at CNET and sister site CBS are giving it a big thank you for revolutionizing the world as we know it.

There have been some definite downsides to the Web, such as online predation and a reduction in privacy, but the good has far outweighed the bad. Web companies have created millions of jobs across the globe, opened people up to different cultures and ideas, and created a level of transparency in politics that's never quite been achieved before.

Through social, economic, and political actions online, the world has become entirely different than it was two decades ago. News travels faster than ever; every single person with access to the Internet has a voice to vent frustration or foster a following; and social interactions have become more varied and far-reaching.

The Web has changed the way people think and revolutionized the world as we know it in a remarkably short period of time. From clunky modems to smartphones, Web-based technology has come a long way. The only question is how far will it continue to evolve in the next 20 years?

Here's a slideshow of the favorite things to come out of the "W3."

20 presents the World Wide Web has given us


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