Berners-Lee, the London-born scientist who invented the World Wide
Web, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, July 16, 2004. He received
the knighthood in recognition of his services to the development of the Internet
through the invention of the Web, a system to organize, link and browse pages
on the Internet. The
Queen made the 49-year-old scientist a knight commander, the second-highest rank
of the Order of the British Empire, in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
the "Father of the Web", he came up with a system over 10 years ago
to organize, link and browse net pages. The
famously modest man said he was "quite an ordinary person", and although
it felt strange, he was "honored". Sir Tim was recently reunited with
the machine he used to invent the web when he e-mailed 80 schools from the UN's
summit on the information society.
British scientist, who lives in the US, was told he was getting the unexpected
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year honors list
a few days ago - by telephone, not by e-mail. He said he never expected his invention
would lead to such an accolade.
physicist created his hypertext program, which was to revolutionize the net, while
he was at the particle physics institute, Cern, in Geneva. The computer code he
came up with let scientists easily share research findings across a computer network.
In the early 1990s, it was dubbed the "world wide web", and is still
the basis of the net as we know it.
Tim Berners-Lee had decided to patent his idea in 1989, the Internet would be
a different place. Instead, the World Wide Web became free to anyone who could
make use of it. The Internet has many fathers: Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn, who
came up with a system to let different computer networks interconnect and communicate;
Ray Tomlinson, the creator of e-mail and the "@" symbol; Ted Nelson,
who coined the term hypertext; and scores of others. But only one person conceived
of the World Wide Web (originally, Berners-Lee called
it a "mesh" before changing it to a "web"). Before him, there
were no "browsers," nothing known as "hypertext markup language,"
no "www" in any Internet address, no "URLs," or uniform resource
he and his colleague, Robert Cailliau, a Belgian, insisted on a license-free technology,
today a Gateway computer with a Linux operating system and a browser made by Netscape
can see the same Web page as any other personal computer, system software or Internet
browser. If his employer at the time, CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory
in Geneva, had sought royalties, Berners-Lee said, he thought the world would
have 16 different "Webs" on the Internet today.
recently told the BBC World Service's Go Digital program his invention was "just
another program", and that he originally wanted it to help achieve understanding.
original idea of the web was that it should be a collaborative space where you
can communicate through sharing information. The idea was that by writing something
together, and as people worked on it, they could iron out misunderstanding."
Sir Tim said the honor was an acknowledgement that the net was becoming globally
powerful, and not just a "passing trend".
was a time when people felt the Internet was another world, but now people realize
it's a tool that we use in this world." He
added that his knighthood proves what can happen to "ordinary people"
who work on things that "happen to work out", like the web. "What's
at stake here is the whole spirit in which software has been developed to date,"
he said. "If you can imagine a computer doing it, then you can write a computer
program to do it. That spirit has been behind so many wonderful developments.
And when you connect that to the spirit of the Internet, the spirit of openness
and sharing, it's terribly stifling to creativity. It's stifling to the academic
side of doing research and thinking up new ideas; it's stifling to the new industry
and the new enterprises that come out of that."
Tim currently heads up the World
Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
in Boston, where he is now based as an academic.
Born in London in 1955
Studied at Wandsworth's Emanuel
Read physics at Queen's College, Oxford
Banned from using the
university's computer when he and a friend were caught hacking
computer with old TV, a Motorola microprocessor and soldering iron
web in late 1980s and early 1990s at Cern
Offered it free on the net
Previously awarded an OBE
In 1994 he founded World Wide Web Consortium at
In 1999 he became first holder of the 3Com Founders chair
named him one of the top 20 thinkers of the 20th Century
Story from BBC NEWS