The World Wide Web is fifteen years old today, and a special invitation-only event in Boston is being held to mark the moment.

The World Wide Web Consortium (itself ten years old today) is offering a day-long symposium in Boston, called W3C10.

The event, "brings together Web and Internet technical leaders from across the globe", the organization says. They aim to remember the origins of the W3C and look forward to what the Web will be. The MC for the show is Ethernet inventor and Internet pioneer, Bob Metcalfe.

Rocket science

In March 1989 Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal that would become the basis for the World Wide Web, while employed at CERN (l'Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire).

With approval from his supervisor, the late Mike Sendall, and support from colleagues including Robert Cailliau, Berners-Lee's invention grew from one server at CERN in 1990, to millions of servers today.

Berners-Lee saw the potential to grow the technology, based on open technologies and agreed standards and protocols. CERN agreed to make Tim's code available freely, and the World Wide Web Consortium was founded in 1994, to ensure standards were kept. Its earliest mission statement was to "Lead the Web to Its Full Potential."

"This special anniversary brings the opportunity to acknowledge the impact of the Web and the W3C's stewardship role," said W3C director, Tim Berners-Lee.

"I hope it will also inspire ever more collaboration, creativity, and understanding across the globe," he said.

Standards matter

W3C has developed Web standards such as: Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and Extensible Markup Language (XML), the last of which has given rise to new graphics and multimedia formats (SVG and SMIL) as well as applications for mobile devices, such as VoiceXML 2 and XHTML Basic.

W3C also serves as the development centre for the Semantic Web. The organization also develops policies and practices to encourage the extended applicability and growth of Web technologies to people, including W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative.

"W3C10 is a celebration that brings together the people who are pioneering, standardizing, implementing and benefiting from Web technologies," explained Steve Bratt, W3C chief operating officer. "We'll share stories from the W3C's past and dreams for the future of Web technology, making for a full and exciting day."