What was the First Web Widget?

My buddy Mike Jones from Userplane hit me up with a fantastic question, “what was the first widget ever created?” Sheesh Mike, I posted on that a long time ago! The mother of all widgets is the Guinness widget. 🙂

Seriously though, here is his post:

Readers – I have been asked “What was the FIRST web widget ever created” – my thoughts rolled back to the original hit counters – but I am eager to hear your opinions. If you have any thoughts on the first widgets for the web – please let me know!

I agree with Mike. I think it probably was the hit counter. That being said, if we include badges (Tim Post style) as a sub-class of widgets, the first animated gif was really the first widget.

What do you think my fellow nerd historians?

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hoomanradfar Written by:

  • Hooman,
    I think you nailed it! I thought about the badges when I commented on Mike's post. But I didn't include them because I was unsure.

    Tim Post is using a new address http://timothypost.com/

  • Hooman Radfar

    Thanks Derek. It is kind of subjective and the whole discussion relies on how you define a widget. Oh well. Also, I totally spaced when I was typing Tim's URL. I am so accustomed to Flyingseeds. Bah. 🙂

  • Funnily enough, I was sort of addressing this question for myself the other day, because I wanted in my talk 'Blowing up the Web' to point up my view that everything between the tags is more or less fragments of code, i.e. widgets which can be broken out and distributed.
    I found this reference to the IMG tag, and I respectfully submit that the IMG tag is the first widget. Why? Because an IMG tag pulls some content (an image) in from elsewhere. And, because the IMG tag was invented and made available for use by a third party (Marc Andressen) – just like a widget.

    "Early Web enthusiasts exchanged ideas and gossip over an electronic discussion group called WWW-talk. This was where Dave Raggett, Tim Berners-Lee, Dan Connolly and others debated how images (photographs, diagrams, illustrations and so on) should be inserted into HTML documents. Not everyone agreed upon the way that the relevant tag should be implemented, or even what that tag should be called. Suddenly, Marc Andreessen appeared on WWW-talk and, without further to-do, introduced an idea for the IMG tag by the Mosaic team.

    It was quite plain that the others were not altogether keen on the design of IMG, but Andreessen was not easily redirected. The IMG tag was implemented in the form suggested by the Mosaic team on its browser and remains to this day firmly implanted in HTML. This was much to the chagrin of supporters back in academia who invented several alternatives to IMG in the years to come. Now, with the coming of HTML 4, the OBJECT tag potentially replaces IMG, but this is, of course, some years later. " http://www.w3.org/People/Raggett/book4/ch02.html

    Not only do I submit that it was the first widget, but look, there have been a load of other methods of doing more or less the same thing – doesn't that remind you of widgets. OK, it was a browser level implementation, which sort of undermines my thesis, but the method and the attitude are what matters here …

  • Hooman Radfar

    Ivan, as usual you are on top of things. Thanks for the lovely comment. Wow. 🙂

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  • Rob

    I suggest that our product "Web Widgets" was the first. We have been selling them since 1995, and they are two activex controls. One is a web browser, and the other is a HTTP control.
    Please consider that this was in the days of HTML 1.5 and there was no JavaScript.
    While the idea of a tag as a widget is appealing it defies the definition of a widget as an add-on simply because it was integrated into the interpreter.

  • Hello

    Very interesting information! Thanks!