The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application protocol for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web, where hypertext documents include hyperlinks to other resources that the user can easily access, for example by a mouse click or by tapping the screen in a web browser.
The development of HTTP was initiated by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in 1989. Development of early HTTP Requests for Comments (RFCs) was a coordinated effort by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), with work later moving to the IETF.
HTTP/1.1 was first documented in RFC 2068 in 1997. That specification was obsoleted by RFC 2616 in 1999, which was likewise replaced by the RFC 7230 family of RFCs in 2014.
HTTP/2 is a more efficient expression of HTTP's semantics "on the wire", and was published in 2015; it is now supported by major web servers and browsers over Transport Layer Security (TLS) using an Application-Layer Protocol Negotiation (ALPN) extension where TLS 1.2 or newer is required.
HTTP/3 is the proposed successor to HTTP/2, which is already in use on the web, using UDP instead of TCP for the underlying transport protocol. Like HTTP/2, it does not obsolete previous major versions of the protocol. Support for HTTP/3 was added to Cloudflare and Google Chrome in September 2019 and can be enabled in the stable versions of Chrome and Firefox.