Tim Berners-Lee

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Tim Berners Lee2.JPG
Affiliation: Web Science Research Initiative
Country: UK
Email: timbl[at]w3.org

LinkIcon.png   http://www.w3.org/People/Berners-Lee/

Twitter: TwitterIcon.png   @timberners_lee

Tim Berners-Lee is a British computer scientist. He invented the world wide web (www), a system used to organize and access information over the Internet via hyperlink documents. He also developed the uniform resource identifier (URL), hypertext markup language (HTML), and hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). He is the founder and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an open international organization dedicated to developing standards for the world wide web to ensure its long-term growth. Mr. Berners-Lee is also a director of the Web Science Research Initiative and the World Wide Web Foundation.

Tim is a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and head of the Decentralized Information Group (DIG). He is also a professor in the Electronics and Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.[1] [2][3]

He is a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1999, he was named as one of the Great Minds of the Century by Time Magazine.[4]

Comments on ICANN TLD Expansion Program

In 2004, Tim criticized ICANN's plan to expand the number of top level domain names (TLDs) delegated in the root zone of the Internet's domain name system (DNS). According to him, TLD expansion is a negative and expensive change to the Internet's infrastructure. He said that a new TLD should only be added if there is a clear benefit from it. He also encouraged ICANN not to approved the proposed .mobi and .xxx TLDs as he thought they were harmful to internet architecture.[5]

Career History

Tim Berners-Lee started his career as a programmer at Plessey Controls Limited, a major telecommunications equipment manufacturer in Poole, Dorset UK. He worked on barcoding, message relays, and typesetting software. After two years, he joined D.G. Nash Limited where he wrote typesetting software and a multitasking operating system for intelligent printers.[6]

In 1980, he served as a consultant software engineer at the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucleaire (CERN), the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. During his 6 months consultancy job at CERN, he wrote Enquire-his first hypertext system which was named after an old book he found at his parents' house entitled, "Enquire Within upon Everything." He used Enquire to store information and track all the researchers and projects associated with CERN. The program was never published for commercial use, however, it was the foundation of the future development of the world wide web. [7]

In 1981, Tim served as Technical Design Lead at John Poole's Image Computer Systems for four years. He worked on real-time control firmware, graphics, communications software, and generic macro language. In 1984, he returned to CERN and worked on distributed real-time systems for scientific data acquisition, system control and FASTBUS system software. He also designed a heterogeneous remote procedure call system.[8]

In March 1989, Tim submitted a project proposal to his superior at CERN to develop an information management system to allow automatic information sharing using a global hypertext system between scientists in different institutes and universities worldwide. His idea was to combine the technologies of computer networking, hypertext, and personal computers to create a global and powerful information system. Sendall commented that the proposal was "vague but interesting."[9] [10]

Berners-Lee developed the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), the language used in computers to communicate hypertext documents over the internet, and the universal resource identifier, (URI) now called URL or uniform resource locator, a system used to locate documents by assigning a unique address while waiting for CERN to approve his proposal.[11]

In 1990, Robert Cailliau, a systems engineer who also had an independent proposal to develop a hypertext system, joined Berners-Lee. He revised the proposal, collaborated with Berners-Lee on papers and presentations and advocated for funding and organized the first International World Wide Web Conference. Tim and Robert presented their joint proposal to the CERN management. Mike Sendall bought a NeXT computer to evaluate the proposal. Tim developed the first web browser and hypertext mark up language (HTML), an integrated editor used to create hypertext documents, within one month using the NeXT computer. In May 1990, the first browser editor was developed. Tim and Robert agreed to name it the "World Wide Web." According to Robert, "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..." On December 25, Tim launched the world's first web server and communicated with Robert through the first website (info.cern.ch) using the NeXT computer at CERN.[12] [13][14]

In 1994, Tim left CERN and joined MIT. He founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS), which became the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). In April 1999, he became the first holder of the 3Com (Computer Communication Compatibility) Founders Chair laboratory at MIT, where he served as a senior researcher.[15] In 2009, he was appointed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the United Kingdom's Public Sector Transparency Board to help advance the governments' transparency agenda. He continues to serve as director of W3C and the World Wide Web Foundation.[16]


Tim went to Wandsworth's Emanuel School. He received his degree in physics from Queen's College at Oxford University.

Personal Information

Tim Berners Lee was born June 8, 1955, in Southwest London, England. His parents Conway Berners-Lee and Mary Lee Woods were both mathematicians and part of the team that built the Machester Mark 1, one of the earliest commercial computers. He is divorced with two children.[17]


Berners-Lee received the following awards and recognition:[18]

  • ACM Software System Award (1995)
  • Kilby Foundation's "Young Innovator of the Year" Award
  • ACM Kobayashi Award (1996)
  • IEEE Computer Society Wallace McDowell Award (1996)
  • Computers and Communication (C&C) Award (1996)
  • Duddell Medal of the Institute of Physics (1997)
  • Interactive Association's Distinguished Service Award (1997)
  • MCI Computerworld/Smithsonian Award for Leadership in Innovation (1997)
  • International Communication Institute's Columbus Prize (1997)
  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) (1997)
  • Charles Babbage Award (1998)
  • Mountbatten Medal of the National Electronics Council (1998)
  • The Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran Prize (1998)
  • PC Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in Technical Excellence (1998)
  • Eduard Rhein Technology Award (1998)
  • World Technology Award for Communication Technology (1999)
  • Paul Evan Peters Award (2000)
  • George R. Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award at the American Computer Museum (2000)
  • Special Award for Outstanding Contribution of the World Television Forum (2000)
  • Royal Medal of the Royal Society (2000)
  • Japan Prize (2002)
  • Millennium Technology Prize (2004)[19]
  • Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (2004)[20]


Berners-Lee wrote the book "Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web" with Mark Fischetti in 1999. A complete list of his publications is available here

Reaction Against SOPA and PIPA

Tim Berners-Lee spoke against the SOPA and PIPA legislation proposed by the United States Congress. According to him, the legislation threatened the openness of the Internet and it needed to be stopped. "The laws have been put together to allow an industry body to ask the government to turn off a website and the government can make people turn off the site without trial. There are times when that could be very powerful and damaging, like before an election, and it is crossing a line, and we have to protect the internet as an open space, we have to respect it."[21] During a press conference held at W3C, Berners-Lee said that the fear of the music industry and other organizations supporting SOPA and PIPA that their business models aren't working should not be used as a reason to upset the openness of the internet. He also added that he supports different platforms that allow people to pay for music online and different ways for content creators to get their money back.[22]