Stanford's Linear Accelerator Laboratory operates the longest particle accelerator of its kind—it's produced groundbreaking work in particle physics over the decades, as well as several Nobel prizes. But surprisingly, it also played a major role in the early web: By hosting the first web site in the US. It wasn't much to look at, but that's not important.


Of course, the world wide web was the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee, who proposed the concept while he was working as a fellow at CERN. But in 1989, one Stanford physicist named Tony Johnson watched Tim Berners-Lee present the web at a conference in France—and brought back the idea to California. "I first saw a demonstration of the web at a conference in Southern France in 1991," Johnson said in Stanford News this week in a story about the school's Wayback archive site. "I immediately thought that it would be a great way of sharing information on the Internet."

Together with a colleague named Paul Kunz, they set up the first web server outside of Europe in December of 1991. That included America's first web page, a utilitarian affair that included an address book and a help site you see above. The web grew fast, and four years later, they had spruced it up quite a bit, adding a jazzy graphic of particles colliding and even a photo:

As Allison Meier points out on Hyperallergic, this year is the web's 25th birthday, which means that SLAC and other early web players are taking a moment to reflect. That includes the White House, which put up this amazing specimen as its first internet presence:

Glorious. [Stanford News; Hyperallergic]