Thomas Reardon

Last updated
Thomas Reardon
Born1969 (age 4950)
Education Columbia University (B.A., 2008; PhD, 2016) [1]
Duke University (M.S., 2010) [2]
Known forCTRL-Labs
Internet Explorer
Awards TR35 (2003)
Scientific career
Fields Information technology
Computational neuroscience
Institutions Columbia University
Doctoral advisor Thomas Jessell
Attila Losonczy

Thomas "T.R." Reardon (born 1969) is an American computational neuroscientist and the CEO and co-founder of CTRL-labs. [3] Formerly, he was a computer programmer and developer at Microsoft. He is credited with creating the project to build Microsoft's discontinued web browser, Internet Explorer, the world's most used browser during its peak (2002–03). [4]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Computational neuroscience is a branch of neuroscience which uses computational approaches, to study the nervous system. Computational approaches include mathematics, statistics, computer simulations, and abstractions which are used across many subareas of neuroscience including development, structure, physiology and cognitive abilities of the nervous system.

Programmer person who writes computer software

A computer programmer, sometimes called more recently a coder, is a person who creates computer software. The term computer programmer can refer to a specialist in one area of computers, or to a generalist who writes code for many kinds of software.


Early life

Reardon is originally from New Hampshire, from an Irish-Catholic background. He is one of 18 siblings, eight of them adopted. [4] Described as a "math and computer prodigy," Reardon took graduate-level math and science classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology while in high school. He moved to North Carolina at age 16. [3] [5]

New Hampshire U.S. state in the United States

New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. New Hampshire is the 5th smallest by area and the 10th least populous U.S. state.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology University in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Institute is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university, with an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The Institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Bates Center, and the Haystack Observatory, as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad and Whitehead Institutes. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength, making it one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world.

Early Tech Career

While in North Carolina, Reardon co-founded a startup at age 19. [5] After the startup's acquisition, he met Bill Gates and joined Microsoft for 10 years as a program manager on the Windows 95 and Windows 98 projects. [3] [6]

Bill Gates American business magnate and philanthropist

William Henry Gates III is an American business magnate, investor, author, philanthropist, and humanitarian. He is best known as the principal founder of Microsoft Corporation. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of chairman, CEO and chief software architect, while also being the largest individual shareholder until May 2014.

Windows 95 operating system from Microsoft

Windows 95 is a consumer-oriented operating system developed by Microsoft as part of its Windows 9x family of operating systems. The first operating system in the 9x family, it is the successor to Windows 3.1x, and was released to manufacturing on August 15, 1995, and generally to retail on August 24, 1995. Windows 95 merged Microsoft's formerly separate MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows products, and featured significant improvements over its predecessor, most notably in the graphical user interface (GUI) and in its simplified "plug-and-play" features. There were also major changes made to the core components of the operating system, such as moving from a mainly co-operatively multitasked 16-bit architecture to a 32-bit preemptive multitasking architecture, at least when running only 32-bit protected mode applications.

Windows 98 Personal computer operating system by Microsoft released in 1998

Windows 98 is a graphical operating system developed by Microsoft as part of its Windows 9x family of operating systems. It is the successor to Windows 95, and was released to manufacturing on May 15, 1998, and to retail on June 25, 1998. Like its predecessor, it is a hybrid 16-bit and 32-bit monolithic product with the boot stage based on MS-DOS.

At one point, Reardon constituted Microsoft's entire Internet Explorer development team. [7] He served as a program manager and architect for Internet Explorer through version 4. Notably, he delivered the first implementation of CSS in Internet Explorer 3. IE3 was the first incarnation of Explorer to seriously compete with Netscape Navigator, which until that point had been the most popular browser. In 1996, and came up with the idea of bundling Internet Explorer with the Microsoft Windows operating system. [6]

Internet Explorer web browser developed by Microsoft

Internet Explorer is a series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included in the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year. Later versions were available as free downloads, or in service packs, and included in the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) service releases of Windows 95 and later versions of Windows. The browser is discontinued, but still maintained.

Cascading Style Sheets style sheet language

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language like HTML. CSS is a cornerstone technology of the World Wide Web, alongside HTML and JavaScript.

Internet Explorer 3 web browser of Microsoft

Microsoft Internet Explorer 3 (IE3) is a graphical web browser released on August 13, 1996 by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and on January 8, 1997 for Apple Mac OS. It began serious competition against Netscape Navigator in the first Browser war. It was Microsoft's first browser release with a major internal development component. It was the first more widely used version of Internet Explorer, although it did not surpass Netscape or become the browser with the most market share. During its tenure, IE market share went from roughly 3–9% in early 1996 to 20–30% by the end of 1997. In September 1997 it was superseded by Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.

During Reardon's tenure, Internet Explorer surpassed Netscape Navigator as the most-used web browser in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in what came to be known as the First Browser War. Reardon was a foundering board member of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and worked with W3C and other standards agencies as Microsoft's representative to establish many of the standards and precedents that still govern the World Wide Web. [8] Reardon was one of the earliest advocates and influencers of HTML4, CSS, and XML, designing the first commercial implementations of these languages. [9] [10]

World Wide Web Consortium web standards organization

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web. Founded and currently led by Tim Berners-Lee, the consortium is made up of member organizations which maintain full-time staff for the purpose of working together in the development of standards for the World Wide Web. As of 29 May 2019, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has 446 members. The W3C also engages in education and outreach, develops software and serves as an open forum for discussion about the Web.

XML Markup language developed by the W3C for encoding of data

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable. The World Wide Web Consortium's XML 1.0 Specification of 1998 and several other related specifications—all of them free open standards—define XML.

In 1998, Microsoft became embroiled in antitrust litigation, United States v. Microsoft Corp as a result of the browser war with Netscape. Reardon expressed disillusionment with Microsoft after the Netscape ordeal, ultimately deciding to leave to start a wireless networking startup called Avogadro. [9]

Reardon later joined OpenWave, a mobile software company, where he served as general manager and then Vice President, finally being appointed Chief Technology Officer, a post he held until 2004. [6] [11] At OpenWave, he worked on developing the first mobile web browser. [1] In 2003, the MIT Technology Review named Reardon, then 34, one of its Top 35 Innovators Under 35, an annually published list recognizing innovators for "accomplishments that are poised to have a dramatic impact on the world as we know it". [7]

Higher Education

In 2004, Reardon went back to college, studying Classics at the Columbia University School of General Studies. [3] [6] He credits a conversation with physicist Freeman Dyson for inspiring him to widen his worldview. [1]

In 2008, Reardon graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University with a B.A. in Literature and Classical Languages. By 2010, he had also earned an M.S. in Neurobiology from Duke University. [1] [2]

In 2012 Reardon gave the commencement address at his alma mater Columbia University. [1] Reardon began the address quoting "my favorite Roman philosopher" Seneca in Latin: "What matters most is whether one is extending one's life or merely delaying one's death". He contextualized the revisionist history with the temptation of narrative fallacy: "There is a lot of pressure at events like these to connect the events in one's life with a smooth line. But rich lives, lived well, are actually quite non-linear." He again recounted the experience with Freeman Dyson, being encouraged to further explore his high school interest in Latin: "Oh, yes you must – read Tacitus." [4]

Reardon completed a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University in 2016. [1]


The flagship device of CTRL-labs has been called an "API for the brain" [3] by TechCrunch and a "wristband to let human beings control machines with their minds" by CNBC. [12]

In February 2019, CTRL-labs announced raising $28 million in a Series B financing round from Google Ventures, Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Lux Capital, Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, Breyer Capital, and Fuel Capital. [13] This brings their fundraising total to $67 million. [14]

VentureBeat features a series of demos for CTRL-Labs' technology. [15] [16]


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Netscape is a brand name associated with the development of the Netscape web browser. It is now owned by Verizon Media, a subsidiary of Verizon Communications. The brand belonged to the Netscape Communications Corporation, an independent American computer services company whose headquarters were in Mountain View, California and then Dulles, Virginia. The browser was once dominant but lost to Internet Explorer and other competitors after the so-called first browser war, its market share falling from more than 90 percent in the mid-1990s to less than 1 percent in 2006.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 O’Sullivan, Anna (May 7, 2012). "Internet Explorer Creator to Speak at Columbia University Graduation". Columbia School of General Studies. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Thomas Reardon". Department of Neuroscience at Columbia. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Thomas Reardon and CTRL-Labs are building an API for the brain". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-03-09.
  4. 1 2 3 Columbia (2012-05-29), 2012 School of General Studies Class Day Ceremony , retrieved 2019-03-09
  5. 1 2 "Neural Interfaces and the Future of Human-Computer Interaction | Thomas Reardon". Hidden Forces. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Mocarski, Michelle (April 20, 2012). "GS Class Day speaker swapped computers for classics". Columbia Spectator. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  7. 1 2 "Thomas Reardon, 34". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  8. Silwa, Carol (July 29, 1996). "Microsoft and Netscape Take Battle to Distributed Object Front". Network World (13, 31).
  9. 1 2 Costello, Sam (November 6, 2000). "Start-up CEO reveals little about company's big wireless dreams". Infoworld.
  10. Ferranti, Marc (April 22, 1996). "Web group fights for HTML standard". Infoworld.
  11. Morris, Anne (February 18, 2003). "Smartphones not such a smart move – Openwave CTO". Total Telecom. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  12. "CTRL-labs's armband lets humans control machines with their brains". Retrieved 2019-03-09.
  13. "Ctrl-labs raises $28 million from GV and Alexa Fund for neural interfaces". VentureBeat. 2019-02-22. Retrieved 2019-03-09.
  14. "CTRL-Labs". Crunchbase.
  15. VentureBeat (2018-12-05), Ctrl-Labs: Ctrl-Kit: Demo 1 , retrieved 2019-03-09
  16. VentureBeat (2018-12-05), Ctrl-Labs: Ctrl-Kit: Demo 2 , retrieved 2019-03-09