HTML is a markup language. One of the first principals you should know is that HTML is actually just another form of a text file. For example, text files (like Microsoft Word files) don’t change. Notepad or Microsoft Word just knows how to open the files and display the files in a readable way. The same is with HTML. Web browsers read HTML files just like Microsoft Word reads .DOC files.
The reason HTML has all those < and > tags is because HTML was meant to be human readable. That way people can sort of, by reading the code, understand what’s going on and why the page is displayed in a certain way. Unfortunately, there needs to be a balance between what is easy for humans to read and something a computer can read.
For example, consider the HTML:
will display Hello in bold text on a webpage. Instead of having code that looks like
Hey browser, can you show the word Hello in bold text for me?
Computers have a hard time understanding and interpreting sentences like that. If they did know how to it’d be very computationally intensive. Consequently, markup languages like HTML are short and distinguishable so that web browsers can understand what the author of the webpage intended without using too much computational power. It’s much easier for a computer to search for < or > then it is to interpret an English sentence. HTML is a good universal language for web browsers to interpret.