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Definition: hypertext


A linkage between related information. Hypertext is the foundation of the World Wide Web, enabling users to click or tap a link in order to switch to another part of the same Web page, another page on the same site or to a website anywhere in the world. Hypertext is the umbrella term for all links, whether appearing as text (word, phrase or sentence) or as an icon or other graphical element, the latter technically called a "hypergraphic." The terms "hypertext," "hyperlink" and "link" are all used synonymously. See hypermedia, live link and virtual hypertext.

The term was coined by Ted Nelson in 1963, but his vision was more expansive than the one-way links of today's Web. Nelson proposed two-way linking and support for non-hierarchical organization (for more information, visit www.xanadu.com).

The World Wide Web = Hypertext
The Web was developed in the early 1990s by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau at the CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics in Geneva, Switzerland. Whether the Web embodied hypertext as Nelson envisioned it or not, the linking of one item to another created the largest information explosion the world has ever witnessed.