The development and use of CSS dates back to the late 1990s and the early development of the internet as we know it today. CSS1 was released in 1996. Style sheets were brought into play as a way to separate the content of the web page from the styling. Web Developers were wanting more capbility to change the look and functionality of the web pages. The early web page browers were only designed to display text, but along came images, fonts, colors, etc., and the browsers would need to adapt to the new standards.

Along with greated image control, adaption of font faces, and color, CSS also sets the stage for standardization across all the pages of a web site.

Why are they called "Cascading" style sheets?

The styles set up in the style sheet can be very generalized or very specific for a single element. There is a hierarchy for the styles. This means that if you style an <h1> tag, it will apply to all <h1> tags throughout the site. Also, a style applied to a containing element will "cascade" down throughout all the elements contained within that element if the properties are inherited. In addition, styles set farther down in the style sheet will override any duplicate styles set earlier on.

Who sets the standards for CSS?

The W3C, World Wide Web Consortium, set the standards for Cascading Style Sheets and publish recommendations for use on the internet. The various web browsers, such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera, display their interpretation of the styles set in the style sheets. The browsers may not recognize all of the possible styles, especially older versions of the browsers.

The standards recommended byr the W3C can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS2/. This is a rather detailed and laborious document of all the CSS version 2 standards. CSS3 is the latest set of recommendations, though many browsers have not adopted all of the new recommendations at this date.