As you probably know, HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, the language used to create documents on the World Wide Web. It was developed during 1989 and 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau while they were both working at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory. HTML is similar to the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), which was standardized by the International Organization for Standardization in 1986. However, HTML is less complex than SGML and is much easier to learn.
The ‘HT’ part – hypertext
Hypertext – invented by Ted Nelson in the 1960s – is really a special type of database format in which individual documents can be linked to each other in any number of ways. The links between different documents are called hyperlinks – these are the embedded instructions within a document that link it to another document. On the Web, hyperlinks are typically indicated by blue text. When you click the blue text, you are brought to another related file or web page.
As its name implies, the World Wide Web is a single huge hypertext system in which an enormous amount of individual web pages are connected by an enormous number of hyperlinks. Of course, most web pages include other media elements besides text, such as graphics, animation, and audio, so the Web is more accurately described as a hypermedia system.
The ‘M’ – markup
Markup refers to the characters or symbols that you place within a document to determine how the document will look when printed or displayed. Markup indicators can also give a document its logical structure.
In HTML, these indicators are usually called tags, which are the characters or words enclosed in angle brackets that you can see in any HTML document if you open it in your browser and select View – Source (Internet Explorer) – or View – Page Source (Netscape Navigator).
Opening tags mark the start of the tagged part of the document affected by the tag and have a pair of angle brackets <>, whereas closing tags, which mark the end of the tagged section, have a forward slash within a pair of angle brackets </>. Characters inside the brackets determine what the tag actually does. So, for example, these are the opening <b> and closing </b> bold tags. If you surround some text in an HTML document with the <b> and </b> tags, the text inside the tags will be displayed as bold if the document is opened by an HTML interpreter, such as a web browser. Other common tags include the opening <body> and closing </body> tags for marking the body of a document, the opening <ul> and closing </ul> tags for bulleted lists, and the opening <tr> and closing </tr> table row tags.
You can also add hyperlinks to your document by using the opening <a href = “URL”> and closing </a> tags, where URL is the address of the web page or resource that will be opened or called when the user clicks the link. In essence, HTML is the set of markup indicators, or tags, that you can insert into a file so that it can be displayed as a web page.