Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee  (born 8 June 1955) is an English computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web. On 25 December 1990 he implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet with the help of Robert Cailliau and a young student staff at CERN. He was ranked Joint First alongside Albert Hofmann in The Telegraph's list of 100 greatest living geniuses. Berners-Lee is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees the Web's continued development, the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and he is a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). More..


Background and early career

His parents, both mathematicians, were employed together on the team that built the Manchester Mark I, one of the earliest computers. They taught Berners-Lee to use mathematics everywhere, even at the dinner table. Berners-Lee attended Sheen Mount Primary School, before moving on to study his O-Levels and A-Levels at Emanuel School in Battersea, where a computer centre is dedicated in his name.

He is alumnus of The Queen's College, Oxford. While at Queen's, Berners-Lee built a computer with a soldering iron, TTL gates, an M6800 processor and an old television. During his time at university, he was caught hacking with a friend and was subsequently banned from using the university computer. He graduated in 1976 with a degree in physics.

He met his first wife Jane while at Oxford and they married soon after they started work in Poole. After graduation, Berners-Lee was employed at Plessey Controls Limited in Poole as a programmer. Jane also worked at Plessey Telecommunications Limited in Poole. In 1978, he worked at D.G. Nash Limited (also in Poole) where he wrote typesetting software and an operating system.


Personal life

Berners-Lee currently lives in Lexington, Massachusetts (USA) with his wife, Nancy, and two children, Alice and Ben.

He left the Church of England, a religion in which he had been brought up, as a teenager just after being confirmed because he could not "believe in all kinds of unbelievable things." He and his family eventually found a Unitarian Universalist church while they were living in Boston.

Current Life

In 2001, he became a patron of the East Dorset Heritage Trust having previously lived in Colehill in Wimborne, East Dorset, UK.

In December 2004 he accepted a chair in Computer Science at the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, UK, to work on his new project — the Semantic Web.

Berners-Lee believes the future of Semantic Web holds immense potential for how machines will collaborate in the coming days. In an interview with an Indian publication, he shared his views as:

"It is evolving at the moment. The data Web is in small stages, but it is a reality, for instance there is a Web of data about all kinds of things, like there is a Web of data about proteins, it is in very early stages. When it comes to publicly accessible data, there is an explosion of data Web in the life sciences community. When you look about data for proteins and genes, and cell biology and biological pathways, lots of companies are very excited. We have a healthcare and life sciences interest group at the Consortium, which is coordinating lot of interest out there."

He has also become one of the pioneer voices in favour of Net Neutrality..

He feels that ISPs should not intercept customers' browsing activities, the way companies like Phorm do. He has such strong views about this that he would change ISPs to get away from such activities.


  • The University of Southampton was the first to recognise Berners-Lee's contribution to developing the World Wide Web with an honorary degree in 1996 and he currently holds a Chair of Computer Science in the School of Electronics and Computer Science. In 1996 he was also awarded the Mountbatten Medal. He was the first holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at MIT, and is also now a Senior Research Scientist there. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society, an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • In 1997 he was made an Officer in the Order of the British Empire, became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001, and received the Japan Prize in 2002. In 2002 he received the Principe de Asturias award in the category of Scientific and Technical Research. He shared the prize with Lawrence Roberts, Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf. Also in 2002, the British public named him among the 100 Greatest Britons of all time, according to a BBC poll spanning the entire history of the nation and he was awarded the Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology in Telluride, Colorado.
  • In May 2006 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
  • On 15 April 2004 he was named as the first recipient of Finland's Millennium Technology Prize for inventing the World Wide Web. The cash prize, worth one million euros (about £663,000 or USD$1.5 million), was awarded on 15 June, in Helsinki, Finland by President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen.
  • He was given the rank of Knight Commander (the second-highest rank in the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II as part of the 2004 New Year's Honours and was invested on 16 July 2004.
  • On 21 July 2004 he was presented with the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa) from Lancaster University.
  • On 27 January 2005 he was named Greatest Briton of 2004 for his achievements as well as displaying the key British characteristics of "diffidence, determination, a sharp sense of humour and adaptability" as put by David Hempleman-Adams, a panel member. Time Magazine included Berners-Lee in its list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, published in 1999.
  • On 3 October 2005 Berners-Lee was given the Quadriga Award in Berlin.
  • On 8 January 2007 it was announced that he had won the 2007 Charles Stark Draper Prize. The prize includes a $500,000 award and is founded in honour of Charles Stark Draper.
  • On 14 January 2007 he was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering
  • On 13 June 2007 he received the Order of Merit, a personal gift from Queen Elizabeth II where ministerial advice is not required, becoming one of only 24 living members entitled to hold the award and use 'OM' after their name.
  • On 20 September 2008 he was awarded the IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award for conceiving and further developing the World Wide Web IEEE
  • On 10 October 2008 he was presented with the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa) from the Open University of Catalonia.


Inventing the World Wide Web

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

While an independent contractor at CERN from June to December 1980, Berners-Lee proposed a project based on the concept of hypertext, to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers. While there, he built a prototype system named ENQUIRE. After leaving CERN, in 1980, he went to work at John Poole's Image Computer Systems Ltd in Bournemouth but returned to CERN in 1984 as a fellow. 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." He wrote his initial proposal in March 1989, and in 1990, with the help of Robert Cailliau, produced a revision which was accepted by his manager, Mike Sendall. 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 and editor (WorldWideWeb, running on the NeXTSTEP operating system) and the first Web server, CERN HTTPd (short for HyperText Transfer Protocol daemon).

The first Web site built was at CERN and was first put online on 6 August 1991. It provided an explanation about what the World Wide Web was, how one could own a browser and how to set up a Web server. It was also the world's first Web directory, since Berners-Lee maintained a list of other Web sites apart from his own.

In 1994, Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (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 their standards must be based on royalty-free technology, so they can be easily adopted by anyone.


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