Thomas Reardon

Last updated
Thomas Reardon
2019 - Centre Stage - Day 2 VJR22028 (49024840646).jpg
Reardon at 2019 Web Summit
Born1969 (age 5354)
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 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 web browser, Internet Explorer (IE), which was the world's most used browser during its peak in the early 2000s. [4] He founded CTRL-labs in 2015 with neuroscientists from Columbia University. Following the acquisition of CTRL-labs he leads the neural interfaces group at Facebook Reality Labs. [5]


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] [6]

Early tech career

While in North Carolina, Reardon co-founded a startup at age 19. [6] 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] [7]

At one point, Reardon constituted Microsoft's entire Internet Explorer development team. [8] 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 and came up with the idea of bundling Internet Explorer with the Microsoft Windows operating system. [7] IE3 was the first incarnation of Explorer to seriously compete with Netscape Navigator, which until that point had been the most popular browser.

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 founding 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. [9] Reardon was one of the earliest advocates and influencers of HTML4, CSS, and XML, designing the first commercial implementations of these languages. [10] [11]

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. [10]

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. [7] [12] 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". [8]

Higher education

In 2004, Reardon went back to college, studying Classics at the Columbia University School of General Studies. [3] [7] 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] He presently sits on the board of directors at Transportation Alternatives, [13] and on the board of visitors at the School of General Studies [14] and the Zuckerman Institute. [15]


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. [16]

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. [17]

VentureBeat features a series of demos for CTRL-Labs' technology. [18] [19]

In November 2019, CTRL-labs was acquired by Facebook in a deal reportedly between $500 million and $1 billion. [20] [21] The team was integrated into Facebook's AR/VR research group.


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Internet Explorer</span> Web browser series by Microsoft

Internet Explorer is a deprecated series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft that were used in the Windows line of operating systems. While IE has been discontinued on most Windows editions, it remains supported on certain editions of Windows, such as Windows 10 LTSB/LTSC. 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. Microsoft spent over US$100 million per year on Internet Explorer in the late 1990s, with over 1,000 people involved in the project by 1999. New feature development for the browser was discontinued in 2016 and ended support on June 15, 2022, in favor of its successor, Microsoft Edge.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Netscape Navigator</span> Web browser by Netscape released in 1994

Netscape Navigator is a discontinued proprietary web browser, and the original browser of the Netscape line, from versions 1 to 4.08, and 9.x. It was the flagship product of the Netscape Communications Corp and was the dominant web browser in terms of usage share in the 1990s, but by around 2003 its user base had all but disappeared. This was partly because the Netscape Corporation did not sustain Netscape Navigator's technical innovation in the late 1990s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Web browser</span> Software used to navigate the internet

A web browser is an application for accessing websites and the Internet. When a user requests a web page from a particular website, the browser retrieves its files from a web server and then displays the page on the user's screen. Browsers are used on a range of devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. In 2020, an estimated 4.9 billion people have used a browser. The most used browser is Google Chrome, with a 65% global market share on all devices, followed by Safari with 18%.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">ActiveX</span> Software framework by Microsoft introduced in 1996

ActiveX is a deprecated software framework created by Microsoft that adapts its earlier Component Object Model (COM) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technologies for content downloaded from a network, particularly from the World Wide Web. Microsoft introduced ActiveX in 1996. In principle, ActiveX is not dependent on Microsoft Windows operating systems, but in practice, most ActiveX controls only run on Windows. Most also require the client to be running on an x86-based computer because ActiveX controls contain compiled code.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marc Andreessen</span> American entrepreneur, investor, and software engineer (born 1971)

Marc Lowell Andreessen is an American businessman and software engineer. He is the co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used web browser with a graphical user interface; co-founder of Netscape; and co-founder and general partner of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. He co-founded and later sold the software company Opsware to Hewlett-Packard. Andreessen is also a co-founder of Ning, a company that provides a platform for social networking websites and an inductee in the World Wide Web Hall of Fame. Andreessen's net-worth is estimated at $1.7 billion. Critics of Andreessen allege he displayed a conflict of interest by effectively negotiating against Facebook shareholders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Browser wars</span> Competition between web browsing applications for share of worldwide usage

A browser war is a competition for dominance in the usage share of web browsers. The "first browser war," (1995–2001) pitted Microsoft's Internet Explorer against Netscape's Navigator. Browser wars continued with the decline of Internet Explorer's market share and the popularity of other browsers including Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge and Opera.

Spyglass, Inc. was an Internet software company. It was founded in 1990, in Champaign, Illinois, as an offshoot of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and later moved to Naperville, Illinois. Spyglass was created to commercialize and support technologies from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). It focused on data visualization tools, such as graphing packages and 3D rendering engines.

Trident is a proprietary browser engine for the Microsoft Windows version of Internet Explorer, developed by Microsoft.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blake Ross</span> American software developer

Blake Aaron Ross is an American software engineer who is best known for his work as the co-creator of the Mozilla Firefox internet browser with Dave Hyatt. In 2005, he was nominated for Wired magazine's top Rave Award, Renegade of the Year, opposite Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Jon Stewart. He was also a part of Rolling Stone magazine's 2005 hot list. From 2007, he worked for Facebook as Director of Product until resigning in early 2013.

about is an internal URI scheme implemented in various Web browsers to reveal internal state and built-in functions. It is an IANA officially registered scheme, and is standardized.

Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) is a deprecated application programming interface (API) of the web browsers that allows plugins to be integrated.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Internet Explorer 3</span> Web browser for Windows released in 1996

Microsoft Internet Explorer 3 (IE3) is the third, and by now, discontinued, version of the Internet Explorer graphical web browser which was announced in March 1996, and was 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Internet Explorer 2</span> Web browser for Windows released in 1995

Microsoft Internet Explorer 2 (IE2) is the second, and by now discontinued, version of Internet Explorer (IE), a graphical web browser by Microsoft. It was unveiled in October 1995, and was released on November 27, 1995, for Windows 95 and Windows NT, and on April 23, 1996, for Apple Macintosh and Windows 3.1.

Steven McGeady is a former Intel executive best known as a witness in the Microsoft antitrust trial. His notes and testimony contained colorful quotes by Microsoft executives threatening to "cut off Netscape's air supply" and Bill Gates' guess that "this antitrust thing will blow over". Attorney David Boies said that McGeady's testimony showed him to be "an extremely conscientious, capable and honest witness", while Microsoft portrayed him as someone with an "axe to grind". McGeady left Intel in 2000, but later again gained notoriety for defending his former employee Mike Hawash after his arrest on federal terrorism charges. From its founding in 2002 until its sale in November 2013, he was Chairman of Portland-based healthcare technology firm ShiftWise. He is a member of the Reed College Board of Trustees, the Portland Art Museum Board of Trustees, and the PNCA Board of Governors, and lives in Portland, Oregon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the World Wide Web</span> Information system running in the Internet

The World Wide Web is a global information medium which users can access via computers connected to the Internet. The term is often mistakenly used as a synonym for the Internet, but the Web is a service that operates over the Internet, just as email and Usenet do. The history of the Internet and the history of hypertext date back significantly further than that of the World Wide Web.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Netscape (web browser)</span> Family of web browsers

The Netscape web browser is the general name for a series of web browsers formerly produced by Netscape Communications Corporation, which eventually became a subsidiary of AOL. The original browser was once the dominant browser in terms of usage share, but as a result of the first browser war, it lost virtually all of its share to Internet Explorer due to Microsoft's anti-competitive bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">NeoPlanet</span> Graphical web browser

NeoPlanet was a Trident-shell graphical web browser initially released in 1997 by New York–based Bigfoot International, Inc. and later maintained and developed by its subsidiary NeoPlanet, Inc. It was one of the first browsers to be fully skinnable.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Massimiliano Versace</span>

Massimiliano Versace is the co-founder and the CEO of Neurala Inc, a Boston-based company building Artificial Intelligence emulating brain function in software and used in automating the process of visual inspection in manufacturing. He is also the founding Director of the Boston University Neuromorphics Lab. Massimiliano Versace is a Fulbright scholar and holds two PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Trieste, Italy and Cognitive and Neural Systems from Boston University, USA. He obtained his BSc from the University of Trieste, Italy.

An Internet Explorer shell is any computer program that uses the Internet Explorer browser engine, known as MSHTML and previously Trident. This engine is closed-source, but Microsoft has exposed an application programming interface (API) that permits the developers to instantiate either MSHTML or a full-fledged chromeless Internet Explorer within the graphical user interface of their software.


  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. Archived from the original on 2019-06-23. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  2. 1 2 "Thomas Reardon". Department of Neuroscience at Columbia. Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Thomas Reardon and CTRL-Labs are building an API for the brain". TechCrunch. November 2018. 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. Mack, Heather (27 September 2019). "Facebook Deal Suggests Path Forward for Brain-Computer Tech - WSJ". Wall Street Journal.
  6. 1 2 "Neural Interfaces and the Future of Human-Computer Interaction | Thomas Reardon". Hidden Forces. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Mocarski, Michelle (April 20, 2012). "GS Class Day speaker swapped computers for classics". Columbia Spectator. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  8. 1 2 "Thomas Reardon, 34". MIT Technology Review. Archived from the original on 25 February 2021. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  9. Silwa, Carol (July 29, 1996). "Microsoft and Netscape Take Battle to Distributed Object Front". Network World. No. 13, 31.
  10. 1 2 Costello, Sam (November 6, 2000). "Start-up CEO reveals little about company's big wireless dreams". Infoworld.
  11. Ferranti, Marc (April 22, 1996). "Web group fights for HTML standard". Infoworld.
  12. Morris, Anne (February 18, 2003). "Smartphones not such a smart move – Openwave CTO". Total Telecom. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  13. "Staff and Leadership".
  14. "Board of Visitors". Columbia University School of General Studies. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
  15. "The Brain Trust". 26 March 2019.
  16. "CTRL-labs's armband lets humans control machines with their brains". 14 July 2018. Retrieved 2019-03-09.
  17. "Ctrl-labs raises $28 million from GV and Alexa Fund for neural interfaces". VentureBeat. 2019-02-22. Retrieved 2019-03-09.
  18. VentureBeat (2018-12-05), Ctrl-Labs: Ctrl-Kit: Demo 1 , retrieved 2019-03-09
  19. VentureBeat (2018-12-05), Ctrl-Labs: Ctrl-Kit: Demo 2 , retrieved 2019-03-09
  20. Rodriguez, Salvador (2019-09-23). "Facebook agrees to acquire brain-computing start-up CTRL-labs". CNBC. Retrieved 2020-07-11.
  21. "Facebook Buying CTRL-labs, a Start-Up Looking to Guide Computers With Brain Signals". The New York Times. Reuters. 2019-09-23. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2020-07-11.