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The following is a brief history of HTML from its invention in 1991 to present day.

The Version Table

Version Year
HTML 1.0 1991
HTML 2.0 1995
HTML 3.2 1997
HTML 4.01 1999
XHTML 2000
HTML5 2014

HTML 1.0

The first major version of HTML debuted in 1991 with only 22 elements – some elements (e.g. NEXTID, ISINDEX, etc.) were never used again, whereas others (e.g. TITLE, A, etc.) remain in use. The lack of many elements was made up for in the ability to link documents. The World Wide Web also made its debut to the public as a consumer service in 1991, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee.[1]

Berners-Lee wrote the first web browser, WorldWideWeb (later renamed to Nexus). It was released for the NeXTSTEP platform.[Citation needed]

HTML 2.0

The Web started to gain more popularity, with 1995 seeing the release of HTML 2.0 as a result.[2]

HTML 3.2

HTML 3.2 was published as a W3C Recommendation in 1997 under the codename "Wilbur".[Citation needed] HTML 3.2 dropped math formulas entirely, adopting most of Netscape's visual markup tags.[Citation needed]

HTML 4.0

In 1997, HTML 4.0 (codenamed "Cougar"[Citation needed]) was published as a W3C Recommendation, and offers three variations:

  • Strict – deprecated elements are forbidden
  • Transitional – deprecated elements are allowed
  • Frameset – only frame-related elements are allowed

HTML 4.0 adopted many browser-specific element types and attributes but also sought to phase Netscape's visual markup features by marking them as deprecated in favor of style sheets.[Citation needed] It was reissued in 1998 with minor edits but without incrementing the version number.

The DOCTYPE for HTML 4.01 was:



EXtensible HyperText Markup Language is HTML written like XML and is more restrictive and well-formed, able to be parsed by XML parsers.[Citation needed] XHTML 1.0 became a W3C recommendation on January 26, 2000, with the latest XTHML 1.1 becoming a W3C Recommendation on May 31, 2001.

The root element for XHTML is:

<html xmlns="" xml:lang="en">


HTML5 was published as a W3C Recommendation on October 28, 2014.[3]

HTML 5.1 was published as a W3C Recommendation on November 1, 2016.[4]

HTML 5.2 was published as a W3C Recommendation on December 14, 2017.[5]


  1. Tags used in HTML
  3. HTML5 Recommendation – W3C
  4. HTML 5.1 – W3C
  5. HTML 5.2 – W3C