Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, but says he got it wrong when he put the // in front of the ‘www’.
To the estimated 1.67 billion users of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee would like to say “Sorry” for creating the double-slash which precedes the www in each Web page’s address.
Berners-Lee – now officially ‘Sir Tim’ since being knighted in 2004 for creating the World Wide Web (and not making a cent out of it) – admitted at a US technology conference yesterday that the two slashes are unnecessary and were “a mistake”.
“Really, if you think about it, (the Web address) doesn’t need the //. I could have designed it not to have the //”. But, he says, “it seemed like a good idea at the time”.
Web browsers have long since side-stepped the double slash, automatically assuming the http:// component when the user enters a Web address.
Prior to the conference, Berners-Lee explained to The New York Times
that he automatically chose the // characters when working on what became the Web in the late 1980s, as they were a convention in computer programming at the time.
“When I designed the URL, this thing which starts http://, the slash-slash was to indicate that we are actually starting at the top, not starting down at the next slash” Berners-Lee explains.
The slashes where also to separate the name of the protocol, such as HTTP or FTP, from the rest of the address. However, in the end only the colon was necessary. “With the colon in there as well, it turns out people never use the slash-slash without the http, colon.”