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1st Web Page Proves as Elusive as Mysteries of the Universe

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A laptop with a question mark across the screen.

A hunt for the first original Web page ever created may prove futile, due to the nature of how data is stored.

Credit: Lady Banana

European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) scientists are searching for the first Web page. However, they may never make a clear-cut discovery of the original Web page because of the nature of how data is stored, according to CERN researcher Dan Noyes.

"The concept of the earliest Web page is kind of strange," Noyes says. "Data gets overwritten and looped around. To some extent, it is futile."

In April, CERN restored a 1992 copy of the first-ever website that Tim Berners-Lee created to arrange CERN-related information. Then University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill professor Paul Jones came forward with a 1991 version of the same site, which Jones has kept at an archive. However, the 1991 page is locked in a NeXT computer, behind a password that has long been forgotten. Forensic computer specialists are currently trying to extract the information to check time-stamps and preserve the original coding used to generate the page.

"No matter how perfectly you can reproduce something, like The Scream or the Mona Lisa, we have a fetish for the original," Jones says.

From Associated Press
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