from the what-could-have-been dept.
Right before HTTP took off in the early 1990's, there was Gopher and for a while it, too, was growing exponentially. It was fast and hosted text, source code, graphics, and any number of other types of files, just not all mixed together in one and the same document. For a while it was winning out over HTTP and making grounds against FTP. But that changed eventually and the rest is history. The MinnPost goes a bit into the history of Gopher with the Rise and Fall of the Gopher Protocol.