HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. A markup language combines text and extra information about the text. The extra information, related to the text's structure and presentation -- things like whether the text is bold, where it is positioned on the page, etc., that information is expressed using markup, which is intermingled with the ordinary text. In the case of HTML, the markup information is contained in "tags," which are easily recognizable by the
< > symbols.
HTML is used to create web pages. No web designer or web developer can do his job without knowing at least some HTML. In the same time, the language is absolutely essential to people who are creating their first webpage or taking their business online.
Although the creation of HTML coincided with the creation of the World Wide Web more than 25 years ago, today it remains one of the core technologies behind the Internet. Virtually every webpage and web application has HTML as its basis. Additionally, HTML can be used on the desktop for formatting help files and documents.
HTML has been the standard for creating web pages since it was first introduced in the late 1980s by Tim Berners-Lee, in the form of the first web page and a specification for a collection of tags, or labels, for formatting information for use on the web. The original HTML specification described 22 elements, and 13 of those are valid today.
Today, the World Wide Web Consortium maintains the specifications for the the current version -- HTML 4.01. Work on HTML 5, as well as on CSS 3, is ongoing.