You may have seen the stories a week or so ago about how it was the 20th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee putting up the first web page. While many, many people still confuse “the web” with “the internet,” Berners-Lee’s creation really did help take what was mostly a system used by a few nerds (myself include) and add the elements that made it possible to go mainstream in a big, big, big way. And while many folks are talking about just how amazingly far we’ve come in just 20 years, Marco Arment (the InstaPaper guy) reminds us that if Berners-Lee had sought and received a patent for the web, it would just now be coming out of patent coverage.
That sets up an interesting thought experiment. Where do you think the world would be today if the World Wide Web had been patented? Here are a few guesses: