Tim Berners-lee


personal info

Born: 8-Jun-1955
Birthplace: London, England
Gender: Male
Computer Programmer

Nationality: England

Early life

Born in London on 8 June 1955, Berners-Lee's education included Emanuel School in Wandsworth, and later Queen's College, Oxford. At Oxford he majored in physics and built his own computer out of spare parts. Berners-Lee was also caught hacking during his stay at Oxford and banned from using the university's computer. After graduating from Oxford in 1976, Berners-Lee worked on various programming projects before taking a position as a consultant/software engineer for CERN, the European particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1980. It was during his stint at CERN that Berners-Lee developed the first prototype of the World Wide Web. Called Enquire, the program was designed to help Berners-Lee keep track of the vast web of researchers and projects connected with CERN. The program was never released for public use.

Middle life

Berners-Lee moved on to other projects, in 1984 he returned to CERN. He set to work on distributed real-time systems for scientific data acquisition and system control. He soon found himself again faced with CERN's vast and shifting networks of projects and researchers, plus CERN's own rather cranky internal system for sharing and distributing scientific information. Berners-Lee began to envision a global information space where computers around the world would be linked together, allowing researchers to surf from one body of data to another, gathering information related to their own work, while effortlessly sharing their insights and suggestions with other researchers. This system would allow researchers from far-flung nations and institutions to review and discuss not merely finished research, but also work in progress. Information could be available in days or weeks, rather than in the months or years entailed in standard print publication. Unlike CERN's current system, Berners-Lee's would be decentralized, allowing participation from various computer platforms, in various languages, without all the bureaucratic restrictions and delays. Ironically, when Berners-Lee submitted a proposal to CERN, in 1989, he received no reply. As he waited for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn he began working out the details of his system.

The end of the poster

Berners-Lee became the first holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at MIT, where he is a senior research scientist. A Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society and Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, he is both a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the British Royal Society. Hailed by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest minds of this century, Berners-Lee -- or rather the Web itself -- has radically transformed the way technologically literate nations do business, entertain themselves, exchange news and ideas, and educate their children.