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Hypertext is a body of text whose parts are interconnected with links allowing related parts to be accessed easily. It is much like an encyclopedia or dictionary in which words within an entry can be followed to new entries and the entirety of the work is not used linearly or hierarchically. The term was coined in 1965 by Theodor Nelson to describe work he had been doing since about 1960 and which continues as Project Xanadu. Vannevar Bush described some elements of a hypertext system in his article "As We May Think" in The Atlantic in July 1945.

The World-Wide Web is an implementation of the hypertext concept and dates from Tim Berners-Lee work at CERN beginning in 1989 and described in his "Information Management: A Proposal." The first implementation (servers and text-only browsers) was in 1992. It began to spread more quickly with the introduction of Mosaic, the graphical web browser from the NCSA, in 1993. The web also has some similarities to Gopher, a hierarchical, networked document distribution scheme developed at the University of Minnesota in 1991 and widely used on the Internet.


Hypermedia is an extension of the hypertext concept beyond text to include graphics, sound, video, etc. It is exemplified by sensitive or mapped images that have links mapped to parts of a graphic.

An interesting discussion of some of the shortcomings of the web as a hypertext mechanism can be found in Andrew Pam's "Where World Wide Web Went Wrong."

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