Tim Berners-Lee

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Tim Berners-Lee, 2014

Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee , OM , KBE , FRS , FRSA (born June 8, 1955 in London ) is a British physicist and computer scientist . He is the inventor of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and the founder of the World Wide Web . Today he chairs the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has been a professor at Oxford University since 2016 .


First years

Tim Berners-Lee is the son of the mathematician couple Mary Lee Woods and Conway Berners-Lee, who helped develop the Manchester Mark I , and the brother of ecology professor Mike Berners-Lee . He was already involved with computers as a teenager. After graduating from Emanuel School in Battersea, he studied physics at the University of Oxford in England , where he graduated from Queens College in 1976 . This was followed by two years at Plessey Telecommunications Ltd (Poole, UK). In 1978 he moved to DG Nash Ltd (Ferndown, UK), where he worked as a software developer. During his time as a consulting engineer, he had his first contact with the European nuclear research center CERN from June to December 1980 . From 1981 to 1984 he was director of Image Computer Systems in Bournemouth, but returned to CERN in 1984.

Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web

The first web server in the world, developed and implemented by Berners-Lee on a NeXTcube computer

One problem at CERN was that some of the laboratories are located in French and some in Swiss. Different network infrastructures prevailed in the two countries , which made it difficult to exchange information. On March 12, 1989, Berners-Lee proposed a project to his employer, CERN, which was based on the hypertext principle and which should facilitate the worldwide exchange and updating of information between scientists. In 1990 he published a concept for a worldwide hypertext project with Robert Cailliau . In the following years, Berners-Lee developed the page description language HTML , the transfer protocol HTTP , the URL (the name came later, however), the first browser WorldWideWeb and the first web server CERN httpd under the NeXTStep operating system . This should represent the origin of the World Wide Web.

Berners-Lee created the first website , info.cern.ch . This website still exists today; However, there is only a copy from 1992 of the original content. It explained, among other things,

Originally, this was also the first simple search engine , because Berners-Lee also managed other websites besides his own.

The basic ideas of the World Wide Web are comparatively simple, but Berners-Lee saw and linked them in a way the possibilities of which have not yet been fully exhausted.

In 1994, Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was important that he did not patent his ideas and technical implementations , but passed them on freely . He also had a strong influence on the maxim of the World Wide Web Consortium to only adopt patent-free standards.

Berners-Lee's religious unitarian worldview did not explicitly influence the development of the web, according to his own statement, but there are parallels to the religiously motivated idea of ​​how a society should function: flat hierarchies, harmonious cooperation, tolerance and openness to diversity, use of reason and confidence in the comrades-in-arms.

In his book Weaving the Web (German: Der Web-Report , 1999) z. B. emphasizes the following:

  • Editing the web is just as important as browsing the web.
  • Computers can be used to do tasks in the background so that groups can work together better.
  • Every area of ​​the Internet should have a network structure rather than a tree structure. Noteworthy exceptions are the Domain Name System and the rules for assigning domain names by ICANN .
  • Computer scientists not only have a technical but also a moral responsibility.

Berners-Lee's idea of ​​the future of the Internet is the semantic web .

In 2006, in his essay "Creating a Science of the Web", he called for the establishment of an independent web science .


Berners-Lee's first marriage to Nancy Carlson, with whom he had been married since 1990, ended in divorce. His two children, Alice and Ben, are from this marriage. In 2014 Berners-Lee married his second wife Rosemary Leith in London.

Berners-Lee has held the 3Com Founders Chair at the Laboratory for Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) since 1999 . He also heads the World Wide Web Consortium, the open forum he founded for companies and organizations that accompanies the further development of the WWW.

Berners-Lee has been developing the concept of linked data since 2006 . No longer just documents should be published and linked in a networked standardized format, but data of all kinds. Government data, weather data, research data and even personal data should be distributed online on many servers so that you can search these data from link to link to jump and to be able to draw knowledge from ever new combinations.

The World Wide Web was proposed for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Since only institutions with personal representatives can be awarded, Tim Berners-Lee was proposed together with Larry Roberts and Vint Cerf .

Berners-Lee participated in the opening event of the XXX. Olympic Games in London , where he was honored for inventing the World Wide Web.

In 2014, in the wake of the global surveillance and espionage affair , he demanded a catalog of fundamental rights for the Internet and the separation of the assignment of domain names and IP addresses from US hands.


Honorary doctorates


Web links

Commons : Tim Berners-Lee  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Sir Tim Berners-Lee joins Oxford's Department of Computer Science ( Sir Tim Berners-Lee joins Oxford's Computer Science Department ) , ox.ac.uk (University of Oxford), October 27, 2016 (accessed June 1, 2017)
  2. biography at www.w3.org .
  3. Zeit Online : 25 years of the World Wide Web. You've been growing a lot! ; Tim Berners-Lee's proposal. info.cern.ch, 2008; Tim Berners-Lee: Information Management: A Proposal. March 1989, html version on w3.org
  4. copy of the first web presence info.cern.ch at the W3C .
  5. Essay "WWW, UU and I - Unitarian Universalism and the Web (1998/4)" in Berners-Lee's biography at the W3C .
  6. Official photo of the wedding
  7. https://t3n.de/news/solid-www-erfinder-tim-955024
  8. https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_berners_lee_on_the_next_web
  9. ^ Sueddeutsche.de (from March 13, 2010).
  10. Tim Berners-Lee calls for a catalog of basic rights for the Internet. In: ZDNet, March 12, 2014, accessed on March 12, 2014.
  11. ^ Prix ​​Ars Electronica 1995
  12. Homepage of the Eduard Rhein Foundation ( Memento of the original from September 15, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.eduard-rhein-stiftung.de
  13. ^ Member History: Tim Berners-Lee. American Philosophical Society, accessed April 30, 2018 (with a short biography).
  14. The Quadriga of Werkstatt Deutschland e. V. ( Memento from December 20, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Tim Berners-Lee receives the Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize 2015 . GDI media release of December 3, 2014, accessed on December 18, 2014.
  16. Axel Springer Award for web inventor Sir Timothy Berners-Lee. Heise online , March 27, 2017, accessed April 4, 2017.
  17. Web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee receives the Turing Award. Heise online, April 4, 2017, accessed on the same day.
  18. WebSite of the Polytechnic University of Madrid ( Memento of the original from May 10, 2013 on WebCite ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www2.upm.es
  19. Speech for the award .
  20. Biographies of the 2014 honorands at Yale University (yale.edu); Retrieved June 9, 2014.