Tell Me More About: Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is an English engineer and computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. This invention changed the way we communicate on a daily basis, however, considering how much of an influence the web has on our lives, how many of us know the story behind the invention of the World Wide Web?

Born as Timothy John Berners-Lee on 8th June 1955, Tim grew up in London as one of four siblings. It really was no surprise that he developed a love for computers at such an early age, with his parents - both mathematicians, working on the world’s first commercially built computer, the Ferranti Mark 1.

Growing up with a love for electronics and anything to do with technology; which all began from an early love of train-spotting, he claims that he learnt all about electronics from tinkering with his own model railway. It is therefore not surprising that he chose to major in Physics at Oxford University and graduated with a first-class Bachelor of Arts degree in 1976. 

Whilst working on a project named ‘Enquire’ at CERN; also known as The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, Tim came up with the idea of sharing and updating information among researchers within the company by using hypertext. By 1984, the concept of the Internet had been developed by Vincent Cert, which worked by delivering information from one address to another and it was this then that Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to join hypertext with the internet. This would enable him to develop his original theory of sharing information not just within a company, but globally. Making his vision a reality in 1989, Tim published a paper called ‘Information Management: A Proposal’ and the World Wide Web was born. 

“I invented the web just because I needed it really, because it was so frustrating that it didn’t exist.”

Interestingly enough the World Wide Web was not the original name for this system and Berners- Lee admitted he originally referred to it as the ‘mesh’ whilst working on the project.

Over the next two years the World Wide Web was developed as both a text editor and browser, and it didn’t take long for people to confuse the Internet and World Wide Web as the same thing. The world’s first website was launched on 6th August 1991. The first web page was created and much like the first email and it simply explained what the World Wide Web was and can still be found on the CERN website.

To this day Tim Berners-Lee continues his work of promoting the Web and in 2004 was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his pioneering work. 

Did you know that in October 2009, in an article with The Times, Berners-Lee admitted that the initial pair of slashes (“//”) in a web address were “unnecessary”. "There you go, it seemed like a good idea at the time", he said and advised he could easily have designed web addresses without the slashes. 

In 2012, he was featured as the ‘Inventor of the World Wide Web’ during the Summer Olympics opening ceremony in London but this was the first time the majority of us had even seen the face of the man behind something we use on a daily basis. Why is it that other note worthy technology giants such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs have such notoriety and wealth and yet Tim Berners-Lee remains largely unknown? Is it simply because he preferred to keep a low profile or because he didn’t patent his invention?

We hope you enjoyed learning about the creator of the World Wide Web! Why not use the World Wide Web to learn about some more fantastic people? We recently wrote a blog about the creator of Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie that we think you would enjoy!

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