The History of HTML

“HTML” stands for “HyperText Markup Language”.  It is not a programming language, which means it cannot create dynamic functionality. Instead, it is a markup language, which is a system of annotating a document in a manner that is syntactically distinct from the text. The markup language is used to format and organize documents in a similar way to Microsoft Word; when an HTML document is processed for display, the markup language is not shown.

HTML is a standard markup language designed for creating web pages. It enables the user to create and structure sections, paragraphs, headings, links, blockquotes, etc., for web pages and related applications.

HTML was invented by Tim Berners-Lee, known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. The first HTML version was released in 1993. However, HTML’s origins trace back to the 1980s, where Berners-Lee was still working as a physicist for CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland. He launched a software project at CERN, called ENQUIRE. It was a simple hypertext program that was the predecessor to the World Wide Web.

In 1989, Berners-Lee wrote a memo proposing an Internet-based hypertext system. The following year, he specified HTML and wrote the browser and server software. In 1991, the first formal document with the description of HTML was published under the name “HTML Tags” (HTML tags), which can be consulted online today as a computer relic. In 1993, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) made the first official proposal to convert HTML into a standard.

HTML has just kept on evolving. Since its development and introduction, there have been many versions of HTML:

  • HTML 1.0 – The first version of HTML was published in 1993. Not a lot of people were involved in creating websites, so the language was quite limiting.
  • HTML 2.0 – HTML 2.0 was published in 1995. It contains all the features of the first HTML version, along with a few additional features. HTML 2.0 was the standard for website design until January 1997 and refined several core features of HTML.
  • HTML 3.0 – More people were getting involved in HTML’s development, and one of them was Dave Raggett, who introduced a new HTML draft, the HTML 3.0. It included additional features to HTML, giving more powerful characteristics for webmasters in designing web pages. But there was a catch: these very powerful new features slowed down the browser in applying further improvements. HTML 3.0 was published in 1997.
  • HTML 4.0 – HTML 4.0 was published in December 1997, and its revised version was published in April 1998. It offered three variations: strict (where deprecated elements were forbidden); transitional (where deprecated elements were allowed); and frameset (where mostly only frame related elements were allowed). HTML 4.0 was a great improvement from its predecessors. Among its most significant and noteworthy additions included the CSS stylesheets, the possibility of including small programs or scripts in the websites, enhancing the accessibility of the designed web pages, complex tables and improvements in the forms. HTML 4.01 was a mere revision and update of HTML 4.0.
  • XHTML 1.0 – Since the publication of HTML 4.01, the standardization of HTML ceased, and the World Wide Web Consortium – known as WC3 – focused on developing the XHTML standard. The WC3 issued their specifications of XHTML 1.0 as a It was released in January 2000, and since then, it has stood as a joint-standard with HTML 4.01. XHTML marked a departure from the way the new specs had worked – it was a new branch of HTML. It was later revised in 2002. It offered the same three variations like HTML 4.0 and HTML 4.01, reformulated in XML, with only very few restrictions.
  • HTML 5.0 – The latest and current HTML version can be considered an extension of the HTML 4.01. It comes with a number of HTML tags support. This new version supports new-form elements, such as input elements of different types, geolocation support tags, and a lot more. Other tags which are added to HTML 5.0 include an e-mail tag, a password tag, an audio tag, semantic tags, and a section tag.