World Wide Web Inventor to be Knighted
Tim Berners-Lee, one of the the inventors of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), will be made a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth. This was announced by Buckingham Palace as part of the 2004 New Year’s Honours list.
The rank of Knight Commander is the second most senior rank of the Order of the British Empire, one of the Orders of Chivalry awarded. Berners-Lee, 48, a British citizen who lives in the United States, is being knighted in recognition of his “services to the global development of the Internet” through the invention of the World Wide Web.
“This is an honor which applies to the whole Web development community, and to the inventors and developers of the Internet, whose work made the Web possible, ” stated Berners-Lee. “I accept this as an endorsement of the spirit of the Web; of building it in a decentralized way; of making best efforts to keep it open and fair; and of ensuring its fundamental technologies are available to all for broad use and innovation, and without having to pay licensing fees.”
“By recognizing the Web in such a significant way, it also makes clear the responsibility its creators and users share,” he continued. “Information technology changes the world, and as a result, its practitioners cannot be disconnected from its technical and societal impacts. Rather, we share a responsibility to make this work for the common good, and to take into account the diverse populations it serves.”
Born in London, Berners-Lee graduated from the Queen’s College at Oxford University, England in 1976. While there he built his first computer with a soldering iron, TTL gates, an M6800 processor and an old television.
In 1980, while Berners-Lee worked as a consultant software engineer at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, he wrote for his own private use his first program for storing information using the kind of random associations the brain makes. The “Enquire” program — which was never published — formed the conceptual basis for the future development of the Web.
While at CERN in 1989, he proposed a global hypertext project to be known as the World Wide Web. Based on the earlier “Enquire” work, it was designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a Web of hypertext documents.
He wrote the first World Wide Web server, “httpd”, and the first client, “World Wide Web,” in October 1990. He also wrote the first version of the document formatting language with the capability for hypertext links, known as HTML.
The program “WorldWideWeb” was made available within CERN in December 1990, and the first successful demonstration of the Web clients and servers working over the Internet was made that same month. All of his code was made available on the Internet at large in the summer of 1991.
From 1991 to 1993, Berners-Lee continued working on the design of the Web, coordinating feedback from users across the Internet. His initial specifications for URIs, HTTP and HTML were refined and discussed in larger circles as the Web technology spread.
In 1994, with encouragement and support from the late Michael Dertouzos, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS), Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium, where he presently serves as director. The W3C coordinates Web development worldwide, with teams at MIT’s new Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM), and Keio University in Japan. Its goal is to lead the Web to its full potential, ensuring its stability through rapid evolution and revolutionary transformations of its usage.
Berners-Lee, who was cited by Time Magazine in 1999 as one of the 100 greatest minds of the 20th century, 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. He was named a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001, and received the Japan Prize in 2002. He was also the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 1998.
He has been awarded many honorary doctorates from universities around the world, including his alma mater (2001). At MIT, he is the holder of the 3Com Founders Chair, and holds the position of senior research scientist at CSAIL.