This issue is addressed well in the following article from Wikipedia:
History of the World Wide Web
Essentially the answer to your question is going to depend on definitions.
Tim Berners Lee was experimenting with hypertext, the core concept of
what we know as the World Wide Web, in the 1980's, and in 1990 had the
basis of what is now the web, with a web browser application and a web
A date that could be considered the 'connection date' is August 6,
1991, when Tim Berners Lee posted a message to the alt.hypertext
newsgroup announcing publically his 'WorldWideWeb' project and
outlining the way in which it worked.
Archived here at Google Groups:
At that time the internet was still a largely institutional system
and, while it was public, was not largely available then. Throughout
the 90's however access to the internet become more readily available.
Initially this was mostly email and newsgroups, however by the
mid-ninties the web had become a popular protocol online.
The first widely available web-browser was Mosaic, originally
developed Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina for the unix-based X-Windows
GUI. Mosaic was first released in Feburary 1993. The first browser for
Windows was called Cello, and was released in June 1993.
The web really took off in late 1994 and into 1995. By this time
Mosaic had become Netscape and consumer access to the internet was
As the web is built upon the internet, a worldwide network that
existing long before the web, it was connected from the moment the
first server was connected to it (the first server being Tim Berners
Lee's info.cern.ch) which was in late 1990. However it wasn't until
his newsgroup posting in 1991 that it really became a public server.
Here are some links to further information about the history of the
web and internet in general:
And this site, which provides a timeline of the web and an 'emulator'
to experience the web as it was in the past.
Also, archive.org, which maintains archives of various websites from the past.
I hope this is what you were looking for.