He­roes of: Sir Tim Bern­ers-lee

The rev­o­lu­tion­ary com­puter sci­en­tist who in­ventedd the World Wide Web

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Born in June 1955 in Lon­don, Sir Ti­mothy Bern­ers-lee’s pi­o­neer­ing work has trans­formed ev­ery as­pect of our lives; he is the cre­ator of one of the great­est in­ven­tions of the 20th cen­tury. Bern­ers-lee was not the first in his fam­ily to mas­ter math­e­mat­ics; his par­ents Con­way Bern­ers-lee and Mary Lee Woods also ded­i­cated their lives to the sub­ject. His pas­sion for sci­ence led him to at­tend Ox­ford Univer­sity, where in 1976 he grad­u­ated with a first-class de­gree in physics.

After com­plet­ing his de­gree, Bern­ers-lee moved on to be­come a sci­en­tist at CERN, the Euro­pean Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Nu­clear Re­search, in 1989. That same year, Bern­ers-lee pub­lished a pa­per ti­tled In­for­ma­tion Man­age­ment: A

Pro­posal, in which he sug­gested the com­bi­na­tion of hy­per­text and the in­ter­net for an in­for­ma­tion man­age­ment sys­tem.

In this ini­tial pro­posal for the World Wide Web, Bern­ers-lee de­scribed the short­com­ings of the then-cur­rent sys­tem at CERN in al­low­ing sci­en­tists ac­cess to their in­for­ma­tion and doc­u­men­ta­tion. Though the in­ter­net had been around for a decade, the in­for­ma­tion had limited ac­ces­si­bil­ity. Bern­ers-lee set out to con­nect both the in­ter­net and a web-struc­tured plat­form to rev­o­lu­tionise data shar­ing. To achieve this he cre­ated the Hy­per­text Trans­fer Pro­to­col (HTTP), Uni­form Re­source Iden­ti­fier (URI) and Hy­per­text Makeup Lan­guage (HTML), the build­ing blocks for in­ter­net brows­ing that re­main in use to­day.

Cre­ated to bet­ter serve CERN sci­en­tists and as­sist those across the globe with their re­search, Bern­ers-lee launched the first web­site, http://

info.cern.ch, in 1990. This new way to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion was some­thing Bern­ers-lee wanted the en­tire world to have ac­cess to. He de­cided to make the World Wide Web an open and roy­al­tyfree soft­ware, al­low­ing it to grow be­yond academia. By 1994 there were around 3,000 web­sites in ex­is­tence: to­day there are over 1 bil­lion. After such a roar­ing suc­cess, Bern­ers-lee cre­ated W3C (World Wide Web Con­sor­tium), a web stan­dards or­gan­i­sa­tion that also de­vel­ops web spec­i­fi­ca­tions, guide­lines, soft­ware and

tools. With the con­tin­ued suc­cess of the iconic ‘www.’, Bern­ers-lee founded the World Wide Web Foun­da­tion in 2009, an or­gan­i­sa­tion work­ing to de­liver dig­i­tal equal­ity to the world.

Bern­ers-lee has been hon­oured with mul­ti­ple awards over the years, in­clud­ing the pres­ti­gious ACM AM Tur­ing Award (re­ferred to as the ‘No­bel Prize of com­put­ing’). In 1997, he was ap­pointed an Of­fi­cer of the Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire (OBE), then in 2004 he was pro­moted to Knight Com­man­der (KBE) “for ser­vices to the global de­vel­op­ment of the in­ter­net”.

Fol­low­ing decades of sci­en­tific and eco­nomic suc­cess, Bern­ers-lee has now re­turned to his Ox­ford Univer­sity roots. Join­ing the staff as a Pro­fes­sor of Com­puter Sci­ence, Bern­ers-lee is in­spir­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of dig­i­tal creators.

“this new way to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion was some­thing Bern­ers-lee wanted the en­tire world to have ac­cess to”

The fa­ther of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Bern­ers-lee trans­formed the in­ter­net as we know it

The NEXT Cube was the com­puter used to cre­ate the World Wide Web and was ex­hib­ited at the Lon­don Sci­ence Museum

Sci­en­tist Robert Cail­liau (left) worked with Sir Tim Bern­ers-lee (right) on the World Wide Web project us­ing the NEXT Cube com­puter

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