A very short history of hypermedia

Heinz Wittenbrink


Roy T. Fielding
Roy T. Fielding

Picture: Darin Wortlehock 2007, Flickr

Alcuni diritti sono riservati

Hypermedia is defined by the presence of application control information embedded within, or as a layer above, the presentation of information. (Fielding, 2000)

Distributed hypermedia allows the presentation and control information to be stored at remote locations. (Fielding, 2000)

The concept of linked information

Vannevar Bush: Memex

Vannevar Bush
Vannevar Bush

Bild: Wikimedia Commons This image is a work of the United States Department of the Treasury, taken or made as part of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain in the United States.

Vannevar Bush: As we may think
Vannevar Bush: As we may think

All this is conventional, except for the projection forward of present-day mechanisms and gadgetry. It affords an immediate step, however, to associative indexing, the basic idea of which is a provision whereby any item may be caused at will to select immediately and automatically another. ... The process of tying two items together is the important thing.

As We May Think - The Atlantic

J.C.R. Licklider

The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today.(Licklider, 1960)

Ted Nelson

Bild: Gisle Hannemyr, Wikimedia Foundation. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Ted Nelson Home Page

  • Invention of the term “Hypertext”
  • Computers used to implement hypertext
  • Xanadu as a hypertext system

Let me introduce the word "hypertext" to mean a body of written or pictorial material interconnected in such a complex way that it could not conveniently be presented or represented on paper. It may contain summaries, or maps of its contents and their interrelations; it may contain annotations, additions and footnotes from scholars who have examined it.(Nelson, 1965)

DigiBarn Documents: Computer Lib/Dream Machines, Ted Nelson

Ausschnitt aus dem Xanadu-Demo für Windows
Ausschnitt aus dem Xanadu-Demo für Windows

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Ted Nelson: Geeks bearing gifts
Ted Nelson: Geeks bearing gifts

Doug Engelbart

Doug Engelbart 2008
Doug Engelbart 2008

Bild: Alex Handy – Wikimedia Commons licensebuttons by-sa

Highlights of the 1968 Demo - Doug Engelbart Institute

  • Interface elements for linked information (e.g. the mouse)
  • Collaborative editing ...

see: A Lifetime Pursuit - Doug Engelbart Institute


  • Hypertext system on personal computers
  • Linking of images
  • Search


  • Early standard for hypermedia systems
  • Time based hypermedia

Cover Pages: HyTime. ISO 10744:1997 -- Hypermedia/Time-based Structuring Language (HyTime), 2nd Edition

What is hypermedia? Hypermedia is the union of two information processing technologies: hypertext and multimedia. Hypertext information is accessed in more than one order. Multimedia information is communicated by more than one means.(Goldfarb, 1991)


The invention of the web

Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee

Bild: Silvio Tanaka – Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons — Attribution 2.0 Generic — CC BY 2.0

Tim Berners-Lee: Information Management: A Proposal. Copyright: CERN
Tim Berners-Lee: Information Management: A Proposal. Copyright: CERN
  • Internet as implementation of hypertext
  • HTML as markup language for hypertext
  • URLs for addressing resources
  • HTTP as protocol for universal hypermedia

Client-Server Architecture

Source: Fifth International World Wide Web Conference
Source: Fifth International World Wide Web Conference

Early browsers

A screenshot of the first web browser, developed by Tim Berners-Lee on a NeXT computer, which was itself called 'WWW' (Image: CERN)
A screenshot of the first web browser, developed by Tim Berners-Lee on a NeXT computer, which was itself called 'WWW' (Image: CERN)
Screenshot of the Mosaic Browser
Screenshot of the Mosaic Browser

File:NCSA Mosaic.PNG - Wikipedia)

The browser wars

Bild: Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0

Web standards and the W3C

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

HTML Standard

Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web Apps  |  Web  |  Google Developers

RDF and the semantic web

RDF - Semantic Web Standards


Relevance of Open Standards

Future of Clients



Fielding, R. T. (2000). REST: Architectural Styles and the Design of Network-based Software Architectures (Doctoral dissertation). University of California, Irvine. Retrieved from http://www.ics.uci.edu/~fielding/pubs/dissertation/top.htm

Goldfarb, C. F. (1991). Standards: HyTime: A standard for structured hypermedia interchange. Computer, 24(8), 81–84.

Licklider, J. C. R. (1960). Man-Computer Symbiosis. IRE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics, HFE-1, 4–11. Retrieved from http://groups.csail.mit.edu/medg/people/psz/Licklider.html

Nelson, T. H. (1965). Complex Information Processing: A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing and the Indeterminate. In Proceedings of the 1965 20th National Conference (pp. 84–100). Cleveland, Ohio, USA: ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/800197.806036