HTML, which emerged in the mid 80s from Standardized General Markup Language, first appeared as a dozen tags in 1991.
The Internet Engineering Task Force first started the effort to standardize HTML in 1995 with HTML 2.0. The IETF’s efforts to maintain HTML stalled, so the W3C stepped in to oversee standardization.
In 1996, the W3C came out with HTML 3.2, which removed proprietary elements championed by Microsoft and Netscape.
HTML 4.0 followed in 1998, provided mechanisms for style sheets, scripting, embedded objects, richer tables, enhanced forms, and improved accessibility for people with disabilities.
I realize, the impact proprietary technologies such as Apple’s QuickTime and Microsoft’s multimedia players, released in 1991; and Adobe Flash, which debuted in 1996 have played in contributing to rich webpages and Web based applications, earlier HTML was primarily focused on delivering text, not multimedia.