Archive for July 2019

The multilingual web — timeline


By Marie Lebert, 7 December 2019.


After the invention of the web in 1990, internet users with a native language other than English reached 5 percent in 1994, 20 percent in 1998, 50 percent in 2000 and 75 percent in 2015. Many people [here are a few quotes] helped promote their own language and culture and other languages and cultures — sometimes on their free time and often using English as a lingua franca — for the web to become truly multilingual.

[French version]
[Spanish version]


1963: ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) is the first encoding system for English (and Latin).

1971-07: Michael Hart sends a link to eText #1 to the 100 users of the pre-internet. Project Gutenberg is born.

1974: Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn invent the communication protocols at the heart of the internet.

1977: The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) creates UNIMARC as a common bibliographic format for library catalogues.

1983: After being a network linking U.S. governmental agencies, universities and research centres, the internet starts its progression worldwide.

1984: The copyleft, invented by Richard Stallman, ensures that computer software can be freely used and improved by using a GPL (General Public License).

1990: Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web and gives his invention to the world.

1990: Anthony Rodrigues Aristar and Helen Dry create the Linguist List.

1991-01: The Unicode Consortium is founded to develop Unicode, a universal encoding system for the processing, storage and interchange of text data in any language.

1992: The Internet Society (ISOC) is founded by Vinton Cerf to promote the development of the internet.

1992: Paul Southworth creates the Etext Archives as a home for electronic texts of any kind.

1992: Projekt Runeberg is the first Swedish online collection of public domain books.

1993: John Mark Ockerbloom creates The Online Books Page to facilitate access to books that are available for free on the internet.

1993-04: ABU-La Bibliothèque Universelle (ABU-The Universal Library) is the first French online collection of public domain books.

1993-06: Adobe launches PDF (Portable Document Format), Acrobat Reader to read PDF files, and Adobe Acrobat to make them.

1993-07: John Labovitz creates The E-Zine-List as a list of electronic zines around the world.

1993-11: Mosaic is the first web browser for the general public.

1994: Netscape Navigator is the second web browser for the general public.

1994: Projekt Gutenberg-DE is the first German online collection of public domain books.

1994: Michel Martin creates Travlang as a list of free online translation dictionaries for travellers.

1994: Pierre Perroud creates Athena, the first Swiss online collection of public domain books.

1994-05: Tyler Chambers creates The Human-Languages Page (H-LP) as a catalogue of online linguistic resources.

1994-07: Internet users with a native language other than English reach 5 percent.

1994-10: The World Wide Consortium (W3C) is founded to develop protocols for the web.

1995: The Worldwide Language Institute (WWLI) launches NetGlos, a multilingual online glossary of internet terminology.

1995: Microsoft launches its web browser Internet Explorer.

1995: Robert Beard creates A Web of Online Dictionaries as a directory of free online dictionaries.

1995: Tyler Chambers creates the Internet Dictionary Project (IDP) as a collaborative project to create free online bilingual dictionaries.

1995-07: Jeff Bezos launches the online bookstore

1996: The Ethnologue, a reference catalogue for all living languages, creates its free online version.

1996-04: The Internet Archive is founded by Brewster Kahle to archive the web and other digital content for present and future generations.

1996-04: Robert Ware creates OneLook Dictionaries as a fast finder in hundreds of free online dictionaries.

1996-12: Member states of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) adopt the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT).

1997: The Dictionnaire Universel Francophone (French-language Universal Dictionary) from Hachette is freely available online.

1997: The French National Library launches its digital library Gallica.

1997-01: The International Labour Office (ILO) organises its first symposium on multimedia convergence.

1997-01: Several European national libraries create a common website named Gabriel.

1997-04: There are one million websites worldwide.

1997-05: The British Library launches its first OPAC (Online Public Access Catalogue).

1997-08: O’Reilly Japan publishes “For a Multilingual Web” by Yoshi Mikami in Japanese, and translates it into English, French and German the following year.

1997-09: The Internet Bookshop (United Kingdom) starts selling books published in the United States.

1997-12: The Italian translation company Logos puts all its linguistic resources (dictionaries, glossaries, grammars, conjugators) online for free.

1997-12: Yahoo!, a directory of websites, offers its home page in seven languages for a growing number of non-English-speaking users.

1997-12: The search engine AltaVista launches Babel Fish, its free instant online translation service.

1997-12: There are 70 million internet users — 1.7 percent of the world population.

1998-07: Internet users with a native language other than English reach 25 percent.

1998-10: Amazon creates its first two subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and Germany.

1998-10: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) extends copyright to 70 years after the author’s death.

1999: Michael Kellogg creates to offer free online bilingual dictionaries and discussion forums for linguists.

1999-09: The Open eBook (OeB) is published as a standard format for e-books.

1999-12: is the online version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, available for free and then for a fee.

1999-12: The French-language Encyclopaedia Universalis creates its online version, with a paid subscription and some free articles.

2000-01: The wiki becomes popular as a collaborative website.

2000-01: The Million Book Project wants to offer one million free e-books in several languages, later included in the Internet Archive.

2000-02: Robert Beard co-founds as a web portal for dictionaries and other linguistic resources.

2000-03: The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is available online, with a paid subscription.

2000-03: There are 300 million internet users — 5 percent of the world population.

2000-07: Internet users with a native language other than English reach 50 percent.

2000-08: Amazon launches its French subsidiary

2000-09: Quebec’s GDT (Grand Dictionnaire Terminologique – Large Terminology Dictionary) is a major bilingual French-English online dictionary available for free.

2001: Lawrence Lessig creates Creative Commons for authors to be able to share their work on the internet, and for creators to be able to copy and remix it.

2001-01: Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger create Wikipedia as a free collaborative online encyclopedia.

2001-03: IBM launches the WebSphere Translation Server to handle machine translation on a large scale in eight languages.

2001-04: There are 17 million PDAs and 100,000 e-readers worldwide, according to a Seybold Report.

2001-05: The European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD) extends copyright from 50 to 70 years after the author’s death.

2001-10: The Internet Archive launches the Wayback Machine to crawl the 30 billion web pages archived since 1996.

2002-02: The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) is signed as the founding text of the open access movement for free access to research literature.

2002-03: The Oxford Reference Online (ORO) is launched as a major online encyclopedia conceived for the web, with a paid subscription.

2002-12: Creative Commons publishes its first licenses.

2003-09: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) creates its OpenCourseWare (OCW) to offer all its course materials for free on the web.

2003-10: The Public Library of Science (PLOS) launches its first scientific and medical journals, with all its articles under a Creative Commons license.

2003-12: One million works on the internet use a Creative Commons license.

2004: Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media, coins the term “web 2.0” as the title of a conference he is organising.

2004-01: The European Library replaces Gabriel as the web portal for European national libraries.

2004-02: Mark Zuckerberg creates Facebook for his fellow students before extending it to the world.

2004-03: The Research Libraries Group (RLG) launches RedLightGreen as the first free online multilingual union catalogue for libraries.

2004-05: The European Union now has 20 official languages (instead of 11 languages and Latin) after its enlargement.

2004-10: Google launches Google Print (the future Google Books).

2005-04: The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) replaces the Open eBook Forum.

2005-10: The Internet Archive launches the Open Content Alliance (OCA) to offer a worldwide public digital library in many languages.

2005-12: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launches its OpenCourseWare Consortium for other universities to offer their course materials online for free.

2005-12: There are one billion internet users — 15.7 percent of the world population.

2006: There are 90 million smartphones and one billion mobile phones worldwide.

2006-06: Twitter is launched as a micro-blogging tool with 140-character messages.

2006-08: Google replaces Google Print with Google Books.

2006-08: OCLC’s union catalogue WorldCat launches its free online version.

2006-10: Microsoft creates Live Search Books before giving its collection of e-books to the Internet Archive two years later.

2006-11: There are 100 million websites.

2006-12: Gallica, the digital library of the French National Library, offers 90,000 books and 80,000 images.

2007-01: The European Union has 23 official languages instead of 20, with Bulgarian, Irish and Romanian.

2007-02: Creative Commons publishes the versions 3.0 of its licenses, with an international license and compatibility with other licenses like copyleft and GPL.

2007-03: Larry Sanger creates Citizendium as a free collaborative online encyclopedia led by experts.

2007-04: offers a directory of 2,500 dictionaries and grammars in 300 languages.

2007-06: The European Commission launches the free public version of its multilingual terminology database IATE (InterActive Terminology for Europe).

2007-09: The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) publishes the first version of EPUB to replace the OeB (Open eBook) format.

2007-10: Google launches Google Translate as its free online translation service, after using Systran’s translation service for two years.

2007-12: Unicode (created in 1991) supersedes ASCII (created in 1963) as the main encoding system on the internet.

2008-07: PDF is released as an open standard and published by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) as ISO 32000-1:2008.

2008-11: Europeana is launched as the European public digital library.

2009-06: The Google Translator Toolkit is a free web service for (human) translators to edit machine translations produced by Google Translate.

2010-06: Facebook celebrates its 500 million users.

2010-12: 400 million works on the internet use a Creative Commons license.

2011-01: Wikipedia celebrates its tenth anniversary with 17 million articles in 270 languages.

2011-03: There are 2 billion internet users — 30.2 percent of the world population.

2011-03: Kevin Scannell creates the website Indigenous Tweets to identify tweets in minority and indigenous languages.

2013: The Ethnologue, a reference catalogue for all living languages, publishes its free online version before its paid print version.

2013-11: Creative Commons publishes the versions 4.0 of its licenses.

2014-12: 882 million works on the internet use a Creative Commons license.

2015-01: There are 7,102 living languages, according to the Ethnologue.

2015-03: There are 3 billion internet users — 42.3 percent of the world population.

2015-04: The Online Books Page gives access to two million free e-books.

2015-05: There are one billion websites.

2015-07: Internet users with a native language other than English reach 75 percent.

Copyright © 2019 Marie Lebert
License CC BY-NC-SA version 4.0

Written by marielebert

2019-07-22 at 15:55

Posted in Uncategorized