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Habdul Hazeez
Habdul Hazeez

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History of HTML

Starting at CERN, HTML is quite popular in the Web and almost every resource on the web is presented in HTML with some enhancement with CSS and JavaScript.

HTML has gone through many changes over the years and the standards have evolved allowing for cleaner and more efficient code.

The origin of HTML dates back to the year 1980 when Tim Berners-Lee while at CERN wanted a way to navigate from one information to another set of information on another computer this idea was proposed as a hypertext system for sharing documents and would go on to be the fundamental language of the web - HTML.

He authored the first version of HTML in 1993. Since then, there have been many different versions of HTML. The most widely used version throughout the 2000s was HTML 4.01, which became an official standard in December 1999.

Another version, XHTML, was a rewrite of HTML as an XML language. XML is a standard markup language that is used to create other markup languages. Hundreds of XML languages are in use today, including GML (Geography Markup Language), MathML, MusicML, and RSS (Really Simple Syndication).


  • HTML 5
  • HTML 4.01
  • HTML 4.0
  • HTML 3.2
  • HTML 3.0
  • HTML 2.0
  • HTML 1

You can find detailed explanation of these HTML versions at landofcode website.

After the publication of HTML 4.01, the standardization activity of HTML stopped and the W3C focused on the development of the XHTML standard which led to the creation of XHTML.

Tech giants Apple, Mozilla and Opera showed their concern about the lack of interest of the W3C in HTML and thus formed a group called WHATWG which is short for (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group).

The current activity of the WHATWG is focused on the future HTML5 standard, whose first official draft was published on January 22, 2008, and presently the standard can be accessed online.

Which brings us to the next topic, The HTML Specification.

Top comments (4)

tbroyer profile image
Thomas Broyer

I think talking about the origins of HTML as an SGML document type, that no one actually ever implemented as SGML, which lead to "tagsoup", that ultimately was standardized as HTML5 by the WHATWG; would have been a great addition (oh, and that XML is somehow a simplification of SGML, hence the XHTML effort/attempt before HTML5, that actually started in part because XHTML failed)

princealarming profile image

Thanks Habdul for the article. I remember the HTML 1-3 days. Used it extensively, coupled with some JS and a touch of CSS. Now I'm updating my skill set and learning new stuff.

ziizium profile image
Habdul Hazeez

You are welcome. Best of luck in your learning endeavors.

parteh profile image

Thank you Habdul Hazeez for the post, as an absolute beginner I believe I should always stick around.