Indeed it was. Most notable the Hypertext Editing System (HES) from the 1960's: HES was a project which organised information through the use of hyperlinks; sounds familiar? The HES system was created at Brown University; the project was pioneered by Andries van Dam and Ted Nelson (Ted Nelson coined the word Hypertext). The HES system was discontinued in 1968 and replaced by the File Retrieval and Editing System (FRESS).
The World Wide Web was not Berners-Lee first attempt at creating a hypertext program: that belongs to ENQUIRE. Created in the early 1980's by Berners-Lee, ENQUIRE proved a failure, but enabled Berners-Lee to discern what improvements would be needed to create a fully functional and successful hypertext system. Simple put, the problem with ENQUIRE was accessibility - the lack of it - and Berners-Lee would strive to create a new system which was "accessible to everybody", which of course, became the World Wide Web.
NES FRESS, and ENQUIRE, all of these systems, no doubt, helped Berners-Lee create the World Wide Web. Therefore, Brown University and Andries van Dam (amongst others) can lay claim to doing some of the spade work involved in birthing the World Wide Web. The crucial contribution that Berners-Lee made was in combining hypertext and the Internet through the URI address system. The system Berners-Lee created was far more dynamic and simpler than previous attempts. Due to the system only requiring one way links to a server. The only disadvantage was in keeping address data up to date.