I’ve found the wwilfing motherlode for markup nerds like me: The Early History of HTML. It’s a short document, but each link will send you down a rabbit hole of geek history.
Thrill to the original code by Tim Berners-Lee for parsing hypertext! Gasp at the first document ever published on the web!
Interestingly, that first ever web page almost validates as HTML5. It’s just missing a doctype, which—as the spec makes clear—is only required "for legacy reasons." Oh, the irony!
The above is an excerpt from "Hypertext History" by Jeremy Keith/Adactio. The original is full of links, but I wanted this bit of text to stand on its own.
Another short post over there that caught my eye: social media reconsidered in "Slight Return." [I started to say more about this, but it got long, so I'll be putting it into another post.]
Notes mostly to self: came across Adactio (and @adactio) after having been referred here (by whom, I forget, but likely, from the personal blog of Jason Morrison). Following up on the post excerpted above, see also Jeremy Keith's article "A Brief History of Markup" on A List Apart -- it's Chapter One of his new book on HTML5.
[Added] Bonus LOTD from that article:
After HTML 4.01, the next revision to the language was called XHTML 1.0. The X stood for “eXtreme” and web developers were required to cross their arms in an X shape when speaking the letter.
[Added2] By the same author, elsewhere:
This is how technology evolves. Common patterns that require a programming solution eventually get a declarative implementation.