CERN httpd (later also known as W3C httpd) was a web server (HTTP) daemon originally developed at CERN from 1990 onwards by Tim Berners-Lee, Ari Luotonen[2] and Henrik Frystyk Nielsen.[1]

Implemented in C, it was the first ever web server software[3] and went live on December 25th 1990.[4]


This NeXT Computer used by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN became the world's first web server

CERN httpd was originally developed on a NeXT Computer running NeXTSTEP, and was later ported to other Unix-like operating systems, OpenVMS and systems with unix emulation layers, e.g. OS/2 with emx+gcc. It could also be configured as a web proxy server.[1][3] Version 0.1 was released in June 1991.[5] In August 1991, Berners-Lee announced in the Usenet newsgroup alt.hypertext the availability of the source code of the server daemon and other World Wide Web software from the CERN FTP site.[6]

The original, first generation HTTP server which some call the Volkswagen of the Web.[7]

The server was presented on the Hypertext 91 conference in San Antonio and was part of the CERN Program Library (CERNLIB).[8][9][10]

Later versions of the server are based on the libwww library.[2] The development of CERN httpd was later taken over by W3C, with the last release being version 3.0A of 15 July 1996.[1] From 1996 onwards, W3C focused on the development of the Java-based Jigsaw server.[11]

The initial version was public domain software; the last one was under an MIT license.[12]

See also

Portal icon Free software portal
  • Comparison of web server software
  • Traffic Server
  • Web accelerator, which discusses host-based HTTP acceleration
  • Proxy server, which discusses client-side proxies
  • Reverse proxy, which discusses origin-side proxies


  1. ^ a b c d Official CERN httpd page
  2. ^ a b Kahan, José (5 August 1999). "Why Libwww?". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  3. ^ a b The Server Guide: CERN httpd
  4. ^ History of the Web
  5. ^ Change History for httpd
  6. ^ Stewart, Bill. "Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau, and the World Wide Web – Web development". Living Internet. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  7. ^ "W3C Open Source Software – CERN Server". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 23 January 2011. 
  8. ^ "How the web began". CERN. 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  9. ^ Stewart, Bill. "Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau, and the World Wide Web – Berners-Lee". Living Internet. Retrieved 21 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Robert Cailliau (21 July 2010). "A Short History of the Web". NetValley. Retrieved 21 July 2010. 
  11. ^ Baird-Smith, Anselm (April 1996). "W3C Activity: The CERN server". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 21 July 2010. 
  12. ^ The birth of the web Licensing the web on (2014, archived)

External links

  • the official W3C page
  • The historic web site in the W3C archive of November 1992
  • CERN republished her first website.