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The XML FAQ — Frequently-Asked Questions about the Extensible Markup Language

Section 1: Basics

Q 1.5: What is HTML?

HyperText Markup Language, RFC 1866, the language of Web pages.

HTML is the HyperText Markup Language (originally RFC 1866, now HTML 4.01), which started as a small application of SGML for the Web, originating with Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in 1989–90.

It originally defined a very simple class of report-style documents, with section headings, paragraphs, lists, tables, and illustrations, and a few informational elements, but very few presentational elements (Flynn, 1995), plus some hypertext and multimedia. See the question on extending HTML.

The current W3C Recommendations are the XML version of HTML, XHTML; and the more mobile- and media-aware variant, HTML5. There is a separate HTML-and-XHTML FAQ maintained by Steven Pemberton at