How many times have you seen the message Error 404 Page not found while browsing the Internet? We’ve all seen this frustrating warning hundreds of times, but do you know why it’s 404 and not just any other number? If you do not know the reasons but you are curious, read on because we will explain the story.
Before we begin, we will first explain briefly what a 404 error is exactly. When you type a URL in the address bar or click on a link, your browser sends a message to the server to get the requested page. In case the web is not on the server, error 404 will appear.
But why this number and not another? A possible explanation began to circulate in the 2000s that you may have heard, but which is actually an urban legend. This story indicates that the term has its origin in the beginning of the Internet, when scientists from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), located in Switzerland, began to develop the project that would later be known as the World Wide Web.
The room that housed the first servers was called Room 404, and when someone requested information from the database and did not appear, team members had to go to this room to locate the file manually.
As we said, this story, although curious, is not true. This is stated in Wired Robert Cailliau, one of the creators of the World Wide Web together with Tim Berners-Lee. The engineer explains that error codes were a necessity but not a central concern. “When you write code for a new system, you don’t waste much time writing long messages for situations where an error is detected , “ says Cailliau.
With this premise, what the team did was to designate numerical ranges for the different error categories. Thus, the client’s errors were included in the 400 range, and that the page error not found was designated with the number 404 was somewhat arbitrary. “404 was never linked to any room or physical place in CERN. That is a myth,” says the engineer.