Most web browsers display the URL of a web page above the page in an address bar. A typical URL could have the form
http://www.example.com/index.html, which indicates a protocol (
http), a hostname (
www.example.com), and a file name (
Uniform Resource Locators were defined in RFC 1738 in 1994 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and the URI working group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), as an outcome of collaboration started at the IETF Living Documents Birds of a feather session in 1992.
The format combines the pre-existing system of domain names (created in 1985) with file path syntax, where slashes are used to separate directory and filenames. Conventions already existed where server names could be prefixed to complete file paths, preceded by a double slash (
Berners-Lee later expressed regret at the use of dots to separate the parts of the domain name within URIs, wishing he had used slashes throughout, and also said that, given the colon following the first component of a URI, the two slashes before the domain name were unnecessary.
An early (1993) draft of the HTML Specification referred to "Universal" Resource Locators. This was dropped some time between June 1994 (RFC 1630) and October 1994 (draft-ietf-uri-url-08.txt).