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Tim Berners-Lee

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Berners-Lee in 2010
Born Timothy John Berners-Lee
8 June 1955 (age 57)[1]
London, England
United Kingdom[1]
Residence United States and United Kingdom[2]
Nationality British
Alma mater Queen's College, Oxford
Occupation Computer scientist
Known for
  • Inventing the World Wide Web
  • Holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
Title Professor
Religion Unitarian Universalism
Parents Conway Berners-Lee
Mary Lee Woods
Sir Timothy John "Tim" Berners-Lee, OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, FRSA (born 8 June 1955),[1] also known as "TimBL," is a British computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. He made a proposal for an information management system in March 1989,[3] and he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet sometime around mid November.[4]
Berners-Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees the Web's continued development. He is also the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, and is a senior researcher and holder of the Founders Chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).[5] He is a director of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI),[6] and a member of the advisory board of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.[7][8]
In 2004, Berners-Lee was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his pioneering work.[9] In April 2009, he was elected a foreign associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences.[10][11] He was honoured as the "Inventor of the World Wide Web" during the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, in which he appeared in person, working at a NeXT Computer at the London Olympic Stadium.[12] He tweeted "This is for everyone",[13] which was instantly spelled out in LCD lights attached to the chairs of the 80,000 people in the audience.[12]


Early life

Berners-Lee was born in southwest London, England, on 8 June 1955, one of four children born to Conway Berners-Lee and Mary Lee Woods. His parents worked on the first commercially-built computer, the Ferranti Mark 1. He attended Sheen Mount Primary School, and then went on to attend south west London's independent Emanuel School from 1969 to 1973.[9] A keen trainspotter as a child, he learnt about electronics from tinkering with a model railway.[14] He studied at Queen's College, Oxford, from 1973 to 1976, where he received a first-class degree in physics.[1]


Berners-Lee, 2005
After graduation he worked as an engineer at the telecommunications company Plessey in Poole.[1] In 1978 he joined D. G. Nash in Dorset where he helped create type-setting software for printers.[1]
Berners-Lee worked as an independent contractor at CERN from June to December 1980. While there, he proposed a project based on the concept of hypertext, to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers.[15] To demonstrate, he built a prototype system named ENQUIRE.[16]
After leaving CERN in late 1980, he went to work at John Poole's Image Computer Systems, Ltd, in Bournemouth, England.[17] He ran the company's technical side for three years.[18] The project he worked on was a real-time remote procedure call which gave him experience in computer networking.[17] In 1984, he returned to CERN as a fellow.[16]
In 1989, CERN was the largest Internet node in Europe, and Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to join hypertext with the Internet: "I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and—ta-da!—the World Wide Web[19] ... Creating the web was really an act of desperation, because the situation without it was very difficult when I was working at CERN later. Most of the technology involved in the web, like the hypertext, like the Internet, multifont text objects, had all been designed already. I just had to put them together. It was a step of generalising, going to a higher level of abstraction, thinking about all the documentation systems out there as being possibly part of a larger imaginary documentation system.”[20]
Berners-Lee wrote his initial proposal in March 1989, and in 1990, with the help of Robert Cailliau (with whom he shared the 1995 ACM Software System Award), produced a revision which was accepted by his manager, Mike Sendall.[21] He used similar ideas to those underlying the ENQUIRE system to create the World Wide Web, for which he designed and built the first Web browser. This also functioned as an editor (WorldWideWeb, running on the NeXTSTEP operating system), and the first Web server, CERN HTTPd (short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol daemon).
" Mike Sendall buys a NeXT cube for evaluation, and gives it to Tim [Berners-Lee]. Tim's prototype implementation on NeXTStep is made in the space of a few months, thanks to the qualities of the NeXTStep software development system. This prototype offers WYSIWYG browsing/authoring! Current Web browsers used in "surfing the Internet" are mere passive windows, depriving the user of the possibility to contribute. During some sessions in the CERN cafeteria, Tim and I try to find a catching name for the system. I was determined that the name should not yet again be taken from Greek mythology. Tim proposes "World-Wide Web". I like this very much, except that it is difficult to pronounce in French..." by Robert Cailliau, 2 November 1995.[22]
The first website built was at CERN within the border of France,[23] and was first put online on 6 August 1991: was the address of the world's first-ever web site and web server, running on a NeXT computer at CERN. The first web page address was, which centred on information regarding the WWW project. Visitors could learn more about hypertext, technical details for creating their own webpage, and even an explanation on how to search the Web for information. There are no screenshots of this original page and, in any case, changes were made daily to the information available on the page as the WWW project developed. You may find a later copy (1992) on the World Wide Web Consortium website. [24]
It provided an explanation of what the World Wide Web was, and how one could use a browser and set up a web server.[25][26][27][28]
In 1994, Berners-Lee founded the W3C at MIT. It comprised various companies that were willing to create standards and recommendations to improve the quality of the Web. Berners-Lee made his idea available freely, with no patent and no royalties due. The World Wide Web Consortium decided that its standards should be based on royalty-free technology, so that they could easily be adopted by anyone.[29]
In 2001, Berners-Lee became a patron of the East Dorset Heritage Trust, having previously lived in Colehill in Wimborne, East Dorset, England.[30]
In December 2004, he accepted a chair in Computer Science at the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, England, to work on the Semantic Web.[31][32]
In a Times article in October 2009, Berners-Lee admitted that the initial pair of slashes ("//") in a web address were actually "unnecessary". He told the newspaper that he could easily have designed URLs not to have the slashes. "There you go, it seemed like a good idea at the time," he said in his lighthearted apology.[33]

Current work

Tim Berners-Lee at the Home Office, London, on 11 March 2010
In June 2009 then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Berners-Lee would work with the UK Government to help make data more open and accessible on the Web, building on the work of the Power of Information Task Force.[34] Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt are the two key figures behind, a UK Government project to open up almost all data acquired for official purposes for free re-use. Commenting on the opening up of Ordnance Survey data in April 2010 Berners-Lee said that: "The changes signal a wider cultural change in Government based on an assumption that information should be in the public domain unless there is a good reason not to—not the other way around." He went on to say "Greater openness, accountability and transparency in Government will give people greater choice and make it easier for individuals to get more directly involved in issues that matter to them."[35]
In November 2009, Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web Foundation in order to "Advance the Web to empower humanity by launching transformative programs that build local capacity to leverage the Web as a medium for positive change."[36]
Berners-Lee is one of the pioneer voices in favour of Net Neutrality,[37] and has expressed the view that ISPs should supply "connectivity with no strings attached," and should neither control nor monitor customers' browsing activities without their expressed consent.[38][39] He advocates the idea that net neutrality is a kind of human network right: "Threats to the Internet, such as companies or governments that interfere with or snoop on Internet traffic, compromise basic human network rights."[40]
Berners-Lee is President of the Open Data Institute.[41]


This NeXT Computer was used by Berners-Lee at CERN and became the world's first web server
  • In 2003 he was awarded The Royal Photographic Society's Progress Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of any invention, research, publication or other contribution which has resulted in an important advance in the scientific or technological development of photography or imaging in the widest sense.[50]
  • In 2003, he received the Computer History Museum's Fellow Award, for his seminal contributions to the development of the World Wide Web.[51]
  • On 15 April 2004, he was named as the first recipient of Finland's Millennium Technology Prize, for inventing the World Wide Web. The cash prize, worth one million euros (about £892,000, or US$1.3 million, as of Sept 2011), was awarded on 15 June, in Helsinki, Finland, by the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen.[52]
  • He received a knighthood in 2004 when he was promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the New Year Honours "for services to the global development of the Internet", and was formally invested on 16 July 2004.[9][53]
  • On 21 July 2004, he was presented with an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Lancaster University.[54]
  • On 27 January 2005, he was named Greatest Briton of 2004, both for his achievements and for displaying the key British characteristics of "diffidence, determination, a sharp sense of humour and adaptability", as put by David Hempleman-Adams, a panel member.[55]
  • In 2007, Berners-Lee received the Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award.
  • In 2007, he was ranked Joint First, alongside Albert Hofmann, in The Telegraph's list of 100 greatest living geniuses.[56]
  • On 13 June 2007, he received the Order of Merit, becoming one of only 24 living members entitled to hold the honour, and to use the post-nominals 'O.M.' after their name.[57] (The Order of Merit is within the personal bestowal of The Queen, and does not require recommendation by ministers or the Prime Minister)
  • He was awarded the 2008 IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award, for "conceiving and further developing the World Wide Web".[58]
  • On 2 December 2008, Berners-Lee was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester. His parents worked on the Manchester Mark 1 in the 1940s and 50s.[59]

Berners-Lee's tweet, "This is for everyone",[13] at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Berners-Lee Longer Biography". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Lunch with the FT: Tim Berners Lee". Financial Times.
  3. ^ " – Tim Berners-Lee's proposal". Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  4. ^ Tim Berners Lee's own reference. The exact date is unknown.
  5. ^ "Draper Prize". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  6. ^ "People". The Web Science Research Initiative. Archived from the original on 28 June 2008. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  7. ^ "MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (homepage)". Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  8. ^ "MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (people)". Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  9. ^ a b c "Web's inventor gets a knighthood". BBC. 31 December 2003. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  10. ^ "Timothy Berners-Lee Elected to National Academy of Sciences". Dr. Dobb's Journal. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  11. ^ "72 New Members Chosen By Academy" (Press release). United States National Academy of Sciences. 28 April 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  12. ^ a b c Friar, Karen (28 July 2012). "Sir Tim Berners-Lee stars in Olympics opening ceremony". ZDNet. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  13. ^ a b Berners-Lee, Tim (27 July 2012). "This is for everyone". Twitter. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  14. ^ Lunch with the FT: Tim Berners-Lee -
  15. ^ "Berners-Lee's original proposal to CERN". World Wide Web Consortium. March 1989. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  16. ^ a b Stewart, Bill. "Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau, and the World Wide Web". Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  17. ^ a b Tim Berners-Lee. "Frequently asked questions". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  18. ^ Grossman, Wendy (15 July 1996). "All you never knew about the Net ...". The Independent.
  19. ^ Tim Berners-Lee. "Answers for Young People". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  20. ^ "Biography and Video Interview of Timothy Berners-Lee at Academy of Achievement". Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  21. ^ "Ten Years Public Domain for the Original Web Software". CERN. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  22. ^ Roads and Crossroads of Internet History Chapter 4: Birth of the Web
  23. ^ "Tim Berners-Lee. Confirming The Exact Location Where the Web Was Invented".
  24. ^ -CERN[citation needed]
  25. ^ "Welcome to, the website of the world's first-ever web server". CERN. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  26. ^ "World Wide Web—Archive of world's first website". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  27. ^ "World Wide Web—First mentioned on USENET". Google. 6 August 1991. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  28. ^ "The original post to alt.hypertalk describing the WorldWideWeb Project". Google Groups. Google. 9 August 1991. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  29. ^ "Patent Policy—5 February 2004". World Wide Web Consortium. 5 February 2004. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  30. ^ John W. Klooster (2009) Icons of invention: the makers of the modern world from Gutenberg to Gates p.611. ABC-CLIO, 2009
  31. ^ Berners-Lee, T.; Hendler, J.; Lassila, O. (2001). "The Semantic Web". Scientific American 284 (5): 34. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0501-34. edit
  32. ^ "Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web inventor, to join ECS". World Wide Web Consortium. 2 December 2004. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  33. ^ "Berners-Lee 'sorry' for slashes". BBC. 14 October 2009. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
  34. ^ "Tim Berners-Lee". World Wide Web Consortium. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2009.
  35. ^ "Ordnance Survey offers free data access". BBC News. 1 April 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2009.
  36. ^ FAQ—World Wide Web Foundation Retrieved 18 January 2011
  37. ^ Ghosh, Pallab (15 September 2008). "Web creator rejects net tracking". BBC. Retrieved 15 September 2008. "Warning sounded on web's future."
  38. ^ Cellan-Jones, Rory (March 2008). "Web creator rejects net tracking". BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2008. "Sir Tim rejects net tracking like Phorm."
  39. ^ Adams, Stephen (March 2008). "Web inventor's warning on spy software". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 25 May 2008. "Sir Tim rejects net tracking like Phorm."
  40. ^ Berners, Tim (4 May 2011). "Tim Berners-Lee, Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality, Scientific American Magazine, December 2010". Scientific American. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  41. ^ Computing, Government (23 May 2012). "Government commits £10m to Open Data Institute". The Guardian.
  42. ^ "The World-Wide Web Hall of Fame". Best of the Web Directory.
  43. ^ "Software System Award". ACM Awards. Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  44. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54794. pp. 24–25. 13 June 1997. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  45. ^ "Honorary Graduates of University of Essex". Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  46. ^ Quittner, Joshua (29 March 1999). "Tim Berners Lee—Time 100 People of the Century". Time Magazine. "He wove the World Wide Web and created a mass medium for the 21st century. The World Wide Web is Berners-Lee's alone. He designed it. He loosed it on the world. And he more than anyone else has fought to keep it open, nonproprietary and free."
  47. ^ "Open University's online graduation". BBC NEWS. 31. March 2000. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  48. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
  49. ^ "100 great Britons – A complete list". Daily Mail. 21 August 2002. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  50. ^ Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Award Retrieved 13 August 2012
  51. ^ "Fellow Awards | Fellows Home". 11 January 2010. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  52. ^ "Millennium Technology Prize 2004 awarded to inventor of World Wide Web". Millennium Technology Prize. Archived from the original on 30 August 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  53. ^ "Creator of the web turns knight". BBC. 16 July 2004. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  54. ^ "Lancaster University Honorary Degrees, July 2004". Lancaster University. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  55. ^ "Three loud cheers for the father of the web". The Daily Telegraph (London). 28 January 2005. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  56. ^ ""Top 100 living geniuses" ''The Daily Telegraph'' 28 October 2007". The Daily Telegraph. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  57. ^ "Web inventor gets Queen's honour". BBC. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
  58. ^ "IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award Recipients". IEEE. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  59. ^ "Scientific pioneers honoured by The University of Manchester". 2 December 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  60. ^ "Universidad Politécnica de Madrid: Berners-Lee y Vinton G. Cerf—Doctores Honoris Causa por la UPM". Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  61. ^ Press Release: Sir Tim Berners Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web, to receive Webby Lifetime Award At the 13th Annual Webby Awards Webby Retrieved 21 January 2011
  62. ^ Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (22 July 2008). "Uitvinder World Wide Web krijgt eredoctoraat Vrije Universiteit" (in Dutch). Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  63. ^ (22 July 2008). "'Bedenker' wereldwijd web krijgt eredoctoraat VU" (in Dutch). Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  64. ^ "Gorbachev honours 'world changers'". Press Association. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  65. ^ Harvard awards 9 honorary degrees Retrieved 11 June 2011
  66. ^ "AI's Hall of Fame". IEEE Intelligent Systems (IEEE Computer Society) 26 (4): 5–15. 2011. doi:10.1109/MIS.2011.64. edit
  67. ^ "IEEE Computer Society Magazine Honors Artificial Intelligence Leaders". 24 August 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011. Press release source: PRWeb (Vocus).
  68. ^ 2012 Inductees, Internet Hall of Fame website. Retrieved 24 April 2012
  69. ^ Times of Oman. "HM order for Web inventor". Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  70. ^ Al Shabiba Newspaper. "جلالته يمنح وسام السلطان قابوس للثقافة والعلوم والفنون للسير تيم بيرنيرز لي [ARABIC"]. Retrieved 9 December 2012.

Further reading

External links

Preceded by
First recipient
Millennium Technology Prize winner
2004 (for the World Wide Web)
Succeeded by
Shuji Nakamura

Source: At TED2009, Tim Berners-Lee called for "raw data now" -- for governments, scientists and institutions to make their data openly available on the web. At TED University in 2010, he shows a few of the interesting results when the data gets linked up.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the "Sixth Sense" wearable tech, and "Lost" producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on, at Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at

"This guy" is considered to be the father of the internet, for developing html and giving it away for free and is also the founder of W3-Consortium...
No one would call Bill Gates "this guy"... and he did actually invent nothing, and give away for free even less...
It's a pity, that one of the most important people of the past decades is so unknown to the world...

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