Official Biography: Tim Berners-Lee

Official Biography: Tim Berners-Lee

In 1989, while working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, Tim Berners-Lee 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, "WorldWideWeb", a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hypertext browser/editor that ran in the NeXTStep environment. This work was started in October 1990, and the program "WorldWideWeb" was first made available within CERN in December, and on the Internet at large in the summer of 1991.

Through 1991 and 1993, Tim continued working on the design of the Web, coordinating feedback from users across the Internet. His initial specifications of URIs, HTTP and HTML were refined and discussed in larger circles as the Web technology spread.

Tim Berners-Lee graduated from the Queen's College at Oxford University, England, 1976. While there, he built his first computer with a soldering iron, TTL gates, an M6800 processor and an old television.

He spent two years with Plessey Telecommunications Ltd (Poole, Dorset, UK), a major UK Telecom equipment manufacturer, working on distributed transaction systems, message relays, and bar code technology.

In 1978 Tim left Plessey to join D.G Nash Ltd (Ferndown, Dorset, UK), where he wrote among other things typesetting software for intelligent printers, and a multitasking operating system.

A year and a half spent as an independent consultant included a six-month stint (Jun-Dec 1980) as consultant software engineer at CERN. While there, he wrote for his own private use his first program for storing information including using random associations. Named "Enquire" and never published, this program formed the conceptual basis for the future development of the World Wide Web.

From 1981 until 1984, Tim worked at John Poole's Image Computer Systems Ltd, with technical design responsibility. Work here included real time control firmware, graphics and communications software, and a generic macro language. In 1984, he took up a fellowship at CERN, to work on distributed real-time systems for scientific data acquisition and system control. Among other things, he worked on FASTBUS system software and designed a heterogeneous remote procedure call system.

In 1994, Tim founded the World Wide Web Consortium at the then, Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS), which merged with the Artificial Intelligence Lab in 2003 to become the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Since that time, he has served as the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, a Web standards organization that develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. The Consortium has host sites located at MIT, at ERCIM in Europe, and at Keio University in Japan as well as offices around the world.

In 1999, he became the first holder of the 3COM Founders chair. He is currently the 3COM Founders Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at CSAIL, where he also heads the Decentralized Information Group (DIG). In December 2004 he was named a Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton, UK. He was co-Director of the Web Science Trust, launched in 2006 as the Web Science Research Initiative, to help create the first multidisciplinary research body to examine the World Wide Web and offer the practical solutions needed to help guide its future use and design. He is a Director of the World Wide Web Foundation, started in 2008 to fund and coordinate efforts to further the potential of the Web to benefit humanity.

In June 2009 then Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that Sir Tim Berners-Lee would work with the UK Government to help make data more open and accessible on the Web, building on the work of the Power of Information Task Force. Sir Tim is currently a member of The Public Sector Transparency Board to drive forward the UK Government’s transparency agenda.

He is the author, with Mark Fischetti, of the book Weaving the Web on the past, present and future of the Web.


Kilby Foundation's "Young Innovator of the Year" Award
ACM Software Systems Award (co-recipient)
Honorary Prix Ars Electronica
Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society

Awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE)
IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award
Duddell Medal of the Institute of Physics
Interactive Services Association's Distinguished Service Award
MCI Computerworld/Smithsonian Award for Leadership in Innovation
International Communication Institute's Columbus Prize

Charles Babbage award
Mountbatten Medal of the National Electronics Council
Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran Prize from the Foundation for Science and Technology
PC Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in Technical Excellence
MacArthur Fellowship
The Eduard Rhein Technology Award
Honorary Fellow, Institution of Electrical Engineers

Named "One of the 100 greatest minds of the century" by Time Magazine
World Technology Award for Communication Technology
Honorary Fellowship, The Society for Technical Communications

Paul Evan Peters Award of ARL, Educause and CNI
Electronic Freedom Foundation's Pioneer Award
George R Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award, American Computer Museum
Special Award for Outstanding Contribution of the World Television Forum

Sir Frank Whittle Medal, the Royal Academy of Engineering
Fellow, Royal Society
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Japan Prize, the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan
Prince of Asturias Foundation Prize for Scientific and Technical Research (shared with Larry Roberts, Rob Kahn and Vint Cerf)
Fellow, Guglielmo Marconi Foundation
Albert Medal of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Art, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)

Knighted (KBE) by H.M. the Queen for services to the global development of the Internet
Millennium Technology Prize
Special Award of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Member, American Philosophical Society

Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service for Mass Communications
Die Quadriga Award
Financial Times Lifetime Achievement Award

President's Medal, the Institute of Physics

Awarded the Order of Merit by H.M. the Queen
Charles Stark Draper Prize, National Academy of Engineering
Lovelace Medal, British Computer Society
D&AD President's Award for Innovation and Creativity
MITX (Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange) Leadership Award
Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Engineering

BITC Award for Excellence
IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award
Fellow, IEEE
Pathfinder Award, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Foreign Associate, National Academy of Sciences
Webby Awards Lifetime Achievement Award

UNESCO Niels Bohr Gold Medal Award

The Mikhail Gorbachev Award
DAMA Web Awards, Bilbao Web Summit

Honorary Degrees:
Parsons School of Design, New York (D.F.A., 1995)
Southampton University (D.Sc., 1995)
Essex University (D.U., 1998)
Southern Cross University (1998)
Open University (D.U., 2000)
Columbia University (D.Law, 2001)
Oxford University (D.Sc., 2001)
University of Port Elizabeth (DSc., 2002)
Lancaster University (D.Sc., 2004)
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (2008)
University of Manchester (2008)
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (2009)
Université de Liège (2009)
VU University Amsterdam (2009)
Harvard University (2011)

Selected Publications
Berners-Lee, T.J., et al, "World-Wide Web: Information Universe", Electronic Publishing: Research, Applications and Policy, April 1992.
Berners-Lee T.J., et al, "The World Wide Web", Communications of the ACM, August 1994.
Tim Berners-Lee with Mark Fischetti, Weaving the Web, Harper San Francisco, 1999
Tim Berners-Lee, Dan Connolly, Ralph R. Swick "Web Architecture: Describing and Exchanging Data", W3C Note, 1999/6-7.
Berners-Lee, Tim. and Hendler, James "Publishing on the Semantic Web", Nature, April 26 2001 p. 1023-1025.
Berners-Lee, Tim; Hendler, James and Lassila, Ora "The Semantic Web", Scientific American, May 2001, p. 29-37.
James Hendler, Tim Berners-Lee and Eric Miller, 'Integrating Applications on the Semantic Web', Journal of the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan, 
Vol 122(10), October, 2002, p. 676-680
Hendler, J., Berners-Lee, T.J., and Miller, E., ' Integrating Applications on the Semantic Web ', Journal of the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan, Vol 122(10), October, 2002, p. 676-680.
Nigel Shadbolt, Wendy Hall, Tim Berners-Lee, "The Semantic Web Revisited", IEEE Intelligent Systems Journal, May/June 2006, 96-101
Web Science Workshop Report12th-13th September, 2005. Hosted by the British Computer Society, London
Tim Berners-Lee, Wendy Hall, James Hendler, Nigel Shadbolt, Daniel J. Weitzner, “Computer Science: Enhanced: Creating a Science of the Web”, Science Vol. 313, 11 August 2006: 769-771Nigel Shadbolt, Wendy Hall, Tim Berners-Lee, “The Semantic Web Revisited”, IEEE Intelligent Systems Journal,
Tim-Berners Lee, Wendy Hall, James A. Hendler, Kieron O'Hara, Nigel Shadbolt and Daniel J. Weitzner, “A Framework for Web Science”, Foundations and Trends in Web Science, Volume 1, Issue 1 (also available as a book: ISBN: 1-933019-33-6 144pp September 2006)
Nigel Shadbolt, Tim Berners-Lee "Web Science: Studying the Internet to Protect Our Future", Scientific American, Vol. 299, No. 4, P. 76, October 2008
Christian Bizer, Tom Heath, Tim Berners-Lee, "Linked Data - The Story So Far"(pdf), International Journal on Semantic Web and Information Systems (IJSWIS), 5(3): 1-22. DOI: 10.4018/jswis.2009081901, 2009
Tim Berners-Lee, "Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality", Scientific America, Vol. 22, November 2010

The Queen's College, Oxford University, England, BA Hons (I) Physics, 1973-1976.
Emanuel School, London 1969-73
Born London, England, 8 June 1955. Divorced, two children.