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HTML5 For Dummies® Quick Reference by Andy Harris

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A Quick History of HTML

HTML is a key part of the Internet. It has a short but extremely vibrant history. In order to understand what HTML5 is about, it’s useful to look at where it came from. The Internet (and the Web in particular) has been changing at a dizzying pace. HTML has been trying to keep up.

When HTML was first devised, it comprised a handful of tags, and HTML did little more than determine how a page was laid out. As the Web matured, many features were added. Today’s Internet is still about documents, but it’s also about applications. Today’s Web sites are dynamic interactive applications.

The kinds of devices used on the Internet are changing, too. In the early days, only desktop computers used the Web. Now cellphones and mobile devices are among the most important players on the Web. They require a different way of thinking than the standard desk-based behemoths of a few years ago.

It’s time for a fresh new set of standards that will help support the way people are using the Internet today. HTML5 is that set of standards.

A bit of ancient history

In the distant mists of time (1989) Tim Berners-Lee created a new system of connecting electronic documents. He devised a simple language that allowed document authors to link various documents together with limited formatting options. This language was called HTML.

At that point, the Internet existed, but it was mainly accessed by basic command-line programs, and was not easy to use. HTML (and some other underlying technologies) ...

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