STEM GLAM GALLERY: Timothy Berners-Lee
Happy New Year, Reader! May 2018 bring you joy, peace and prosperity. As always, YSE is grateful for your support, and we will continue to strive ahead towards our goals. We hope that you will make amazing progress towards your career goals as well, and may the mass*acceleration be with you! Go STEM!
On this special day, we want to honor a special person who has always helped gather the strength and support for YSE at the backstage, a person who has made a profound impact in all our lives, a person who we ought to thank for being able to read this today. He is Timothy Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.
In 1955, Timothy Berners-Lee was born in England, United Kingdom. As a child, he enjoyed playing with trains and tinkered with the electronics to control the trains. In college, he made a computer out of an old television set. In 1976, he graduated from Oxford University with a first-class BA degree in Physics.
After graduation, Berners-Lee went on to work as an engineer at a Plessey telecom located in Poole. In 1978, he switched jobs to work for D.G. Nash in Dorset, where he helped create type-setting software for printers. From 1980, he was employed as an independent contractor at CERN in Switzerland.
During his time there, he noticed that the scientists were having difficulty sharing their information. He recalls, “In those days, there was different information on different computers, but you had to log on to different computers to get at it. Also, sometimes you had to learn a different program on each computer. Often it was just easier to go and ask people when they were having coffee.” Berners-Lee wanted to solve this problem, so he proposed a project based on the use of hypertext (a language for sharing text electronically), titled “Information Management: A Proposal.” He even built a prototype system named “ENQUIRE”. However, his initial proposal was met with a tepid reaction by his boss Mike Sendall, who commented “vague but exciting” on the cover.
Nonetheless, Berners-Lee persisted with his idea, and five years later, Sendall finally accepted his revised proposal with the help of Robert Cailliau. In 1990, he produced the first version of the World Wide Web, the first web browser and the first web server. It was put online in 1991, and recently in 2013, that same website was even restored by CERN to celebrate the birth of the web. The address is http://info.cern.ch/, and it is available for everyone to visit today.
The World Wide Web was initially created for easy automatic sharing of information between scientists in universities and institutes around the world. Yet, once it was created, it was hard not to see the enormous potential that it had as as a free open virtual community. Thus, Berners-Lee decided to offer the world wide web with no patent and no royalties due, with no attempt to monetise his creation.
Today, Berners-Lee continues to be at the forefront of the technical community and has received countless awards for his countless contributions over his career.
This March 2017, he has written an article about the three things we need to change to save the web. He says, “It has taken all of us to build the web we have, and now it is up to all of us to build the web we want – for everyone.” Let us save this precious world that we’ve all helped built. The first step is to educate ourselves.