Tim Berners-Lee

Last updated

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee (cropped).jpg
Berners-Lee in 2014
Born
Timothy John Berners-Lee

(1955-06-08) 8 June 1955 (age 63) [1]
London, England
Other names
  • TimBL
  • TBL
Education Emanuel School
Alma mater The Queen's College, Oxford
OccupationProfessor of computer science
Spouse(s)
  • Nancy Carlson
    (m. 1990;div. 2011)
  • Rosemary Leith(m. 2014)
Children2
Parent(s)
Awards
Scientific career
Institutions
Website w3.org/people/berners-lee

Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee OM KBE FRS FREng FRSA FBCS (born 8 June 1955), [1] also known as TimBL, is an English engineer and computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. He is currently a professor of computer science at the University of Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). [3] [4] He made a proposal for an information management system on March 12, 1989, [5] [6] and he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the internet in mid-November the same year. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.

Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) is an award and fellowship for engineers who are recognised by the Royal Academy of Engineering as being the

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts Award granted by the Royal Society of Arts

Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) judges to have made outstanding achievements to social progress and development. In the official language of the Fellowship Charter, the award recognizes the contributions of exceptional individuals from across the world who have made significant contributions relating to the Arts, Manufacture and Commerce. Fellowship is only awarded to those who can demonstrate that they have made significant contributions to social change, and support the mission of the RSA. Fellows of the RSA are entitled to use the post-nominal letters FRSA. Fellows of the Royal Society of the Arts are entitled to use of the RSA Library and premises in central London.

Contents

Berners-Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees the continued development of the Web. He is also the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and is a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com founders chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). [12] He is a director of the Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI), [13] and a member of the advisory board of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. [14] [15] In 2011, he was named as a member of the board of trustees of the Ford Foundation. [16] He is a founder and president of the Open Data Institute, and is currently an advisor at social network MeWe. [17]

World Wide Web Consortium web standards organization

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web.

The World Wide Web Foundation, also known as the Web Foundation, is an international non-profit organisation advocating for a free and open web for everyone.

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory AI lab at MIT

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is a research institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology formed by the 2003 merger of the Laboratory for Computer Science and the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Housed within the Stata Center, CSAIL is the largest on-campus laboratory as measured by research scope and membership.

In 2004, Berners-Lee was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his pioneering work. [18] [19] In April 2009, he was elected a foreign associate of the United States National Academy of Sciences. [20] [21] Named in Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, Berners-Lee has received a number of other accolades for his invention. [22] 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 with a vintage NeXT Computer at the London Olympic Stadium. [23] He tweeted "This is for everyone", [24] which instantly was spelled out in LCD lights attached to the chairs of the 80,000 people in the audience. [23] Berners-Lee received the 2016 Turing Award "for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale". [25]

Order of the British Empire order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Elizabeth II Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms

Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms.

Time is an American weekly news magazine and news website published in New York City. It was founded in 1923 and originally run by Henry Luce. A European edition is published in London and also covers the Middle East, Africa, and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong. The South Pacific edition, which covers Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, is based in Sydney. In December 2008, Time discontinued publishing a Canadian advertiser edition.

Early life and education

Berners-Lee was born in London, England, United Kingdom, [26] one of four children born to Mary Lee Woods and Conway Berners-Lee; his brother Mike is an expert on greenhouse gases. 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 Emanuel School from 1969 to 1973, at the time a direct grant grammar school, which became an independent school in 1975. [1] [18] A keen trainspotter as a child, he learnt about electronics from tinkering with a model railway. [27] He studied at The Queen's College, Oxford, from 1973 to 1976, where he received a first-class bachelor of arts degree in physics. [1] [26] While he was at university, Berners-Lee made a computer out of an old television set, which he bought from a repair shop. [28]

Mary Lee Woods British mathematician and computer programmer

Mary Lee Woods was an English mathematician and computer programmer who worked in a team that developed programs in the School of Computer Science, University of Manchester Mark 1, Ferranti Mark 1 and Mark 1 Star computers. She met and married Conway Berners-Lee while working at Ferranti. Sir Tim Berners-Lee is one of their children.

Conway Berners-Lee British mathematician and computer scientist

Conway Maurice Berners-Lee was an English mathematician and computer scientist who worked as a member of the team that developed the Ferranti Mark 1, the world's first commercial stored program electronic computer. He was born in Birmingham in 1921 and is the father of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.

Mike Berners-Lee is an English researcher and writer on greenhouse gases. He is a professor and fellow of the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University and director and principal consultant of Small World Consulting, based in the Lancaster Environment Centre at the university. His books include How Bad are Bananas, The Burning Question and There Is No Planet B. He is considered an expert on carbon footprints. His brother is computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee.

Career

Berners-Lee, 2005 Tim Berners-Lee.jpg
Berners-Lee, 2005

After graduation, Berners-Lee worked as an engineer at the telecommunications company Plessey in Poole, Dorset. [26] In 1978, he joined D. G. Nash in Ferndown, Dorset, where he helped create type-setting software for printers. [26]

The Plessey Company plc was a British-based international electronics, defence and telecommunications company. It originated in 1917, growing and diversifying into electronics. It expanded after the Second World War by acquisition of companies and formed overseas companies.

Poole Place in England

Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is 33 kilometres (21 mi) east of Dorchester, and adjoins Bournemouth to the east. The local council is the Borough of Poole and was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council. The borough had an estimated population of 151,500 making it the second largest in Dorset. Together with Bournemouth and Christchurch, the town forms the South East Dorset conurbation with a total population of over 465,000.

Ferndown a town in Dorset, United Kindom

Ferndown is a town and civil parish in the East Dorset district of Dorset in southern England, situated immediately to the north of the unitary authority areas of Poole and Bournemouth. The parish, which until 1972 was called Hampreston, includes the communities of Hampreston, Longham, Stapehill and Trickett's Cross. The latest population figure for the parish is 26,559.

Berners-Lee worked as an independent contractor at CERN from June to December 1980. While in Geneva, he proposed a project based on the concept of hypertext, to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers. [29] To demonstrate it, he built a prototype system named ENQUIRE. [30]

An independent contractor is a natural person, business, or corporation that provides goods or services to another entity under terms specified in a contract or within a verbal agreement. Unlike an employee, an independent contractor does not work regularly for an employer but works as and when required, during which time they may be subject to law of agency. Independent contractors are usually paid on a freelance basis. Contractors often work through a limited company or franchise, which they themselves own, or may work through an umbrella company.

CERN International organization which operates the worlds largest particle physics laboratory

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is a European research organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Established in 1954, the organization is based in a northwest suburb of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border and has 22 member states. Israel is the only non-European country granted full membership. CERN is an official United Nations Observer.

Geneva Place in Switzerland

Geneva is the second-most populous city in Switzerland and the most populous city of the Romandy, the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Situated where the Rhône exits Lake Geneva, it is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

After leaving CERN in late 1980, he went to work at John Poole's Image Computer Systems, Ltd, in Bournemouth, Dorset. [31] He ran the company's technical side for three years. [32] The project he worked on was a "real-time remote procedure call" which gave him experience in computer networking. [31] In 1984, he returned to CERN as a fellow. [30]

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 [33] ... 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. [34]

This NeXT Computer was used by Berners-Lee at CERN and became the world's first web server First Web Server.jpg
This NeXT Computer was used by Berners-Lee at CERN and became the world's first web server

Berners-Lee wrote his proposal in March 1989 and, in 1990, redistributed it. It then was accepted by his manager, Mike Sendall, who called his proposals 'vague, but exciting'. [35] 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. His software also functioned as an editor (called 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. [36]

The first website was built at CERN. Despite this being an international organisation hosted by Switzerland, the office that Berners-Lee used was just across the border in France. [37] The website was put online on 6 August 1991 for the first time: [28]

info.cern.ch was the address of the world's first-ever website and web server, running on a NeXT computer at CERN. The first webpage address was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html, 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. [38]

It provided an explanation of what the World Wide Web was, and how people could use a browser and set up a web server, as well as how to get started with your own website. [39] [40] [41] [42] [28] In a list of 80 cultural moments that shaped the world, chosen by a panel of 25 eminent scientists, academics, writers, and world leaders, the invention of the World Wide Web was ranked number one, with the entry stating, "The fastest growing communications medium of all time, the internet has changed the shape of modern life forever. We can connect with each other instantly, all over the world". [43]

In 1994, Berners-Lee founded the W3C at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 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 easily could be adopted by anyone. [44]

In 2001, Berners-Lee became a patron of the East Dorset Heritage Trust, having previously lived in Colehill in Wimborne, East Dorset. [45] In December 2004, he accepted a chair in computer science at the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, Hampshire, to work on the Semantic Web. [46] [47]

In a Times article in October 2009, Berners-Lee admitted that the initial pair of slashes ("//") in a web address were "unnecessary". He told the newspaper that he easily could have designed web addresses without the slashes. "There you go, it seemed like a good idea at the time", he said in his lighthearted apology. [48]

Recent work

Tim Berners-Lee at the Home Office, London, on 11 March 2010 Timbernerslee.jpg
Tim Berners-Lee at the Home Office, London, on 11 March 2010

In June 2009, then-British prime minister, Gordon Brown, announced that 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. [49] Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt are the two key figures behind data.gov.uk, 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." [50]

Berners-Lee speaking at the launch of the World Wide Web Foundation Berners-Lee announcing W3F.jpg
Berners-Lee speaking at the launch of the World Wide Web Foundation

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." [51]

Berners-Lee is one of the pioneer voices in favour of net neutrality, [52] and has expressed the view that ISPs should supply "connectivity with no strings attached", and should neither control nor monitor the browsing activities of customers without their expressed consent. [53] [54] 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." [55] Berners-Lee participated in an open letter to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He and 20 other Internet pioneers urged the FCC to cancel a vote on 14 December 2017 to uphold net neutrality. The letter was addressed to Senator Roger Wicker, Senator Brian Schatz, Representative Marsha Blackburn and Representative Michael F. Doyle. [56]

Berners-Lee's tweet, "This is for everyone", at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London This is for Everyone.jpg
Berners-Lee's tweet, "This is for everyone", at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London

Berners-Lee joined the board of advisors of start-up State.com, based in London. [57] As of May 2012, Berners-Lee is president of the Open Data Institute, [58] which he co-founded with Nigel Shadbolt in 2012.

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) was launched in October 2013 and Berners-Lee is leading the coalition of public and private organisations that includes Google, Facebook, Intel, and Microsoft. The A4AI seeks to make internet access more affordable so that access is broadened in the developing world, where only 31% of people are online. Berners-Lee will work with those aiming to decrease internet access prices so that they fall below the UN Broadband Commission's worldwide target of 5% of monthly income. [59]

Berners-Lee holds the founders chair in Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he heads the Decentralized Information Group and is leading Solid, a joint project with the Qatar Computing Research Institute that aims to radically change the way Web applications work today, resulting in true data ownership as well as improved privacy. [60] In October 2016, he joined the Department of Computer Science at Oxford University as a professorial research fellow [61] and as a fellow of Christ Church, one of the Oxford colleges. [62]

On 30 September 2018, Berners-Lee announced a new application made by open-source startup Inrupt called Solid, which aims to give users more control over their personal data and lets users choose where the data goes, who's allowed to see certain elements and which apps are allowed to see that data. [63]

Personal life

Berners-Lee married Nancy Carlson, an American computer programmer, in 1990; she was also working in Switzerland, at the World Health Organization. [64] They had two children and divorced in 2011.

He formed a relationship with Rosemary Leith, a Canadian internet and banking entrepreneur. Leith studied business at Queen's University, then moved to Britain to pursue a career in investment and analysis. [65] She worked in the City of London as a principal investor prior to 2000. [66] She was married to Mark Opzoomer, later the CEO of Rambler Media; the couple had three children, after which she left the financial sector, co-founding a start-up during the dot-com bubble. Management Today described her webzine (as it was called then) as "the first web site devoted entirely to those women struggling to strike a healthy balance between work and home life". [65] More recent projects span both finance and internet. In 2011, she chaired the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for the Future of Internet Security [67] and from 2015 she has been on the board of YouGov. [68] She is on the advisory board for funding platform AllBright, to support "female entrepreneurs from start-ups to established businesses", [69] and provided funding to Netwealth Investments Ltd. [70] Leith is a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. [71]

In 2014, Berners-Lee and Leith married at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace in London. [72] The couple collaborate on projects such as venture capital to support artificial intelligence companies. [73] Leith is a founding director of the World Wide Web Foundation. [74] a non-profit organisation Berners-Lee launched.

Berners-Lee was raised as an Anglican, but in his youth, he turned away from religion. After he became a parent, he became a Unitarian Universalist (UU). [75] He has stated: "Like many people, I had a religious upbringing which I rejected as a teenager ... Like many people, I came back to religion when we had children". [76] He and his wife wanted to teach spirituality to their children, and after hearing a Unitarian minister and visiting the UU Church, they opted for it. [77] He is an active member of that church, [78] to which he adheres because he perceives it as a tolerant and liberal belief. He has said: "I believe that much of the philosophy of life associated with many religions is much more sound than the dogma which comes along with it. So I do respect them." [76]

Distinctions

"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."

—Tim Berners-Lee's entry in Time magazine's list of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, March 1999. [22]

Berners-Lee has received many awards and honours. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2004 New Year Honours "for services to the global development of the internet", and was invested formally on 16 July 2004. [18] [19]

On 13 June 2007, he was appointed to the Order of Merit (OM), an order restricted to 24 (living) members. [79] Bestowing membership of the Order of Merit is within the personal purview of the Queen, and does not require recommendation by ministers or the Prime Minister. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2001. [2] He has been conferred honorary degrees from a number of Universities around the world, including Manchester (his parents worked on the Manchester Mark 1 in the 1940s), Harvard and Yale. [80] [81] [82]

In 2012, Berners-Lee was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork – the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires to mark his 80th birthday. [83] [84]

In 2013, he was awarded the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. [85] On 4 April 2017, he received the 2016 ACM Turing Award "for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale". [25]

Criticism

In 2017 Berners-Lee was criticized for approving Encrypted Media Extensions, a standard seen by prominent defenders of Internet freedom, such as the Free Software Foundation, as dangerous by helping to implement DRM. [86] [87]

See also

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Further reading

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