Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee (born 8 June 1955), also known as TimBL, is an English engineer and computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989, while working at CERN. The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automated information sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world. He is currently a Professorial Fellow of Computer Science at the University of Oxford and Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He made a proposal for an information management system on 12 March 1989, and he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the internet in mid-November the same year.
The Creation of the World Wide Web
In March 1989, Tim Berners-Lee wrote his proposal which was redistributed in 1990. His proposal was accepted by his manager Mike Sendall. He said that Tim’s proposal was vague but exciting. To create the World Wide Web, Tim used similar ideas to those underlying the ENQUIRE system, which was the first web browser he designed and built. His software also worked as an editor and it was called WorldWideWeb and CERN HTTPd short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol daemon was the first Web server.
By October of 1990, Tim had written the three fundamental technologies that remain the foundation of today’s web (and which you may have seen appear on parts of your web browser):
• HTML: HyperText Markup Language. The markup (formatting) language for the web.
• URI: Uniform Resource Identifier. A kind of “address” that is unique and used to identify to each resource on the web. It is also commonly called a URL.
• HTTP: Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Allows for the retrieval of linked resources from across the web.
The website was put online for the first time on August 6, 1991, and its address was info.cern.ch which ran on a NeXT computer at CERN. The website provided information on what the World Wide Web was and how people could use a browser and set up a web server, and as well as how to get started with your own website. The invention of the World Wide Web was chosen by a panel of 25 scientists, academics, writers, and world leaders as the number one fastest growing communications medium of all time, which has changed the shape of modern life forever. Tim Berners-Lee founded the W3C or the World Wide Web Consortium in 1994 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is composed of different companies that are willing to create standards and recommendations for the improvement of the Web’s quality. His idea was made available free with no patents and royalties due. The W3C decided that the Web’s standards should be based on royalty-free technology so that it could be adapted by anyone easily. Berners-Lee became a patron of the East Dorset Heritage Trust in 2001 because he previously lived in Colehill in Wimborne, East Dorset. He then accepted a position in computer science in December 2004 to work on the Semantic Web at the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, Hampshire. As the web began to grow, Tim realised that its true potential would only be unleashed if anyone, anywhere could use it without paying a fee or having to ask for permission. He explains: “Had the technology been proprietary, and in my total control, it would probably not have taken off. You can’t propose that something be a universal space and at the same time keep control of it.”
Establishment of the World Wide Web Foundation
In 2009, Sir Tim established the World Wide Web Foundation. The Web Foundation is advancing the Open Web as a means to build a just and thriving society by connecting everyone, raising voices and enhancing participation. Berners-Lee is one of the pioneer voices in favour of net neutrality, and has expressed the view that ISPs should supply “connectivity with no strings attached”, and should neither control nor monitor the browsing activities of customers without their expressed consent. He advocates the idea that net neutrality is a kind of human network right: “Threats to the internet, such as companies or governments that interfere with or snoop on internet traffic, compromise basic human network rights.”
On 30 September 2018, Berners-Lee announced a new application made by open- source startup Inrupt based on the Solid standards, which aims to give users more control over their personal data and lets users choose where the data goes, who’s allowed to see certain elements and which apps are allowed to see that data.
In November 2019 at the Internet Governance Forum in Berlin Berners-Lee and the WWWF launched Contract for the Web, a campaign initiative to persuade governments, companies and citizens to commit to nine principles to stop “misuse” with the warning ” “If we don’t act now – and act together – to prevent the web being misused by those who want to exploit, divide and undermine, we are at risk of squandering” (its potential for good).
Awards and Honours
Berners-Lee has received many awards and honours. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2004 New Year Honours “for services to the global development of the internet”, and was invested formally on 16 July 2004. On 13 June 2007, he was appointed to the Order of Merit (OM), an order restricted to 24 (living) members. Bestowing membership of the Order of Merit is within the personal purview of the Queen, and does not require recommendation by ministers or the Prime Minister. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2001.He has been conferred honorary degrees from a number of Universities around the world, including Manchester (his parents worked on the Manchester Mark 1 in the 1940s), Harvard and Yale. In 2012, Berners-Lee was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork – the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires to mark his 80th birthday.
In 2013, he was awarded the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. On 4 April 2017, he received the 2016 ACM Turing Award “for inventing the World Wide Web, the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms allowing the Web to scale”.