LMB hack days: Jeremy Keith

An interview with line-mode browser hack day participant Jeremy Keith.

Jeremy Keith at the line-mode browser hack days. The IBM terminal is displaying a version of the first website from 1991 through line-mode browser (Image: Dan Noyes/CERN)

Name: Jeremy Keith
Nationality: Irish
Travelled from: Brighton, UK
Profession: Front-end web developer at design agency Clearleft

LMB hack days: Craig Mod

An interview with line-mode browser hack day participant Craig Mod.

Craig Mod at the line-mode browser hack days at CERN (Image: Anna Pantelia/CERN)

Name: Craig Mod
Nationality: USA
Travelled from: San Francisco
Profession: Writer and publisher. Works with web technology for 16 years

Can you recompile the line-mode browser?

We want the developers who are coming to CERN to create a line-mode browser emulator to get their hands on the real thing. We are working to set up an old-school terminal or computer to run the browser natively with local files. We would also like to recompile the browser to work on modern operating systems so that every developer can have a copy on their machines for test.

Line-mode browser dev days at CERN

CERN wants to bring the line-mode browser experience back to life so that people can step back in time and relive what it was like to browse the web in the very early days. No images, no colours, no clicking – just content. An unimpressive medium to a modern audience, the line-mode browser is nevertheless one of the key cultural assets associated with the story of how the web began.

A lunch of ideas

Jean-François Groff dropped by to see us at CERN today and check in on the project. Jean-François worked at the lab from 1991 and was part of the early WWW team, notably working on the code library that was made available to developers wishing to build web browsers and servers on various platforms.

Over lunch he shared a whole raft of ideas, anecdotes, stories, and leads for us to follow. For instance: 

Early Nikhef website shown some love

The first website contained a page that listed WWW servers. This was maintained until around 1992, when presumably it became impossible to keep up to date. One of the early websites listed on this page was for the Nikhef physics lab in the Netherlands. Willem van Leeuwen from Nikhef just got in touch to say that he's put a page back online at the original URL, and hosted some information about the early Nikhef website.

1999 backup of TBL's NeXT hard drive surfaces

I got a phone call from a rather excited Peter Jurcso this morning, a colleague in the CERN Beams department:

"I hear you're tracking down old web stuff."

"Yes," I replied. "Amongst other things."

"I have a 1999 backup of the NeXT hard drive. Would you like it? I can come by around midday."

True to his word, Peter turned up with a CD.

First thing we did was to back it up in a couple of different places, fingers trembling.


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