MykoWeb Mushroom Blog

WebWatch: The beginnings of mycology on the World Wide Web

Posted on 14 May 2009 by Michael Wood

The “World Wide Web” and the “Internet” are two terms that are often mistakenly used as synonyms, but they are not the same. The World Wide Web (“Web” or “WWW”) is made up of the documents and other information made available over the Internet, which consists of the computers, routers, wires, and cables that make this information available. In other words, the WWW is the info and the Internet is the infrastructure.

The World Wide Web was invented in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee at the CERN labs in Switzerland. Although it became publicly accessible in 1991, the early Web was text based until the first widely available graphical browser, Mozilla, was released in 1993. The Web did not really start to take off until the release of Netscape Navigator version 1 in November 1994 and especially version 1.1 in March of 1995.


This is also the time when we see the first mycology orientated Web sites. The earliest mycological Web presence of which I am aware is the images that Tom Volk had on a Gopher server starting in July 1994. Unless you are a real geek, you probably don’t remember Gopher servers, an early Web technology that allowed files to be transferred over the Internet. The first actual mycological related Web sites appeared in 1995. One of the very first sites was my own website, MykoWeb, which went online on 27 September 1995. Another of the early sites was Tom Volk’s on 25 November 1995.

Beginning in 1996 a number of new mycology related web sites began to appear. Many of these early site are long gone: “Clamp Connexions”, “Mushroom Heaven”, and “Wild Mushrooms: How to Find, Cook, and Eat Them – and Survive!” are examples. Some sites started with promise, but have remained totally stagnant since the beginning: “mycoElectronica”  and “Finest Fungi Fancier File”  are good examples. It would be best that sites that stale be removed.

Some of the other early mycology sites have grown and improved. The best example is the early, rudimentary web work of Nathan Wilson, which has morphed into one of the best mycology information sites on the Web: Other examples are “Dave Fischer’s Marvelous Mushroom Homepage”, which is still around with the new name of “American Mushrooms”, Paul Stamet’s “Fungi Perfecti”, and Taylor Lockwood’s “Treasures from the Kingdom of Fungi”.

Also around 1995 and 1996, North American amateur mushroom clubs began having a presence on the World Wide Web. The first that I am aware of is the website of the Mycological Society of San Francisco, which began on 10 October 1995.

(This originally published in Fungi Magazine: Vol. 1, No. 1; Spring 2008)

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