A 2012 inductee into the Internet Hall of Fame, Dr. Tan introduced the Internet to Singapore, led its first ISP and launched the country’s first website, a biological database.
His efforts in the mid 1990s opened up Internet access for millions around the globe whose first language uses a non-Latin alphabet, such as Chinese, Japanese and Arabic. Prior to 1995, only ASCII characters could be displayed on online interfaces.
Dr. Tan was also involved in introducing the Internet to the disabled, including personally setting up modems, routers and network cards for the Singapore School for the Deaf.
In an interview with OpenGov, Dr. Tan said his efforts were in an attempt to facilitate access to information not only for himself, but for his colleagues around the world.
“At a personal level, it’s about making a difference in the way I think about information,” he said. “ From the perspective of my research community, the most important achievement was enabling researchers to search scientific data online with ease and convenience, by creating some of the earliest online biological databases.
For the country, it was about getting a head start in terms of entering the Internet Age. From a global perspective, it was to drive innovations and the adoption of new Internet features.”