Important People of Cyber Sir Tim Berners Lee

In part 4 of our important people of cyber series, we focus on the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Acclaimed as the visionary whose innovative idea has transformed the planet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee is the creator of the World Wide Web, quite possibly the most transformative invention in history. Without its creation, every aspect of our everyday lives would be completely different.

Born in 1955 in London he had the perfect background to become a computing pioneer. Both of his parents were computer scientists who had worked on the world’s first commercially available computer.

From an early age, he showed an aptitude for electronics and engineering and whilst at university he built a computer out of an old television set. After graduating from The Queens College, Oxford he got a job where he helped create type-setting software for printers.  After that, he landed work as an independent contractor at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN (now home to the Large Hadron Collider).

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Birth of the World Wide Web

Whilst working for CERN for Geneva Berners-Lee began a project to help facilitate the sharing and updating of information between researchers. During his time there he developed his idea for Hypertext but left in 1980. After working for a computer company in Dorset for a few years he returned to CERN as a fellow and it was during this time that he worked on his earlier ideas. Using his Hypertext idea and connecting it to the already designed Transmission Control Protocol and Domain name systems the World Wide Web was born. 

On March 12th 1989, Berners-Lee submitted his ‘Information Management: A proposal’ to his bosses at CERN. They gave him the go-ahead to develop his idea and the world was changed forever. He went onto to develop and build the first web browser and the world’s first website went online on August 6th 1991.

The World Wide Web has gone on to revolutionise every aspect of our everyday lives. Today, Berners-Lee works to ensure that the web remains freely available to everyone and has dedicated his life to protect its future. He is the director of the World Wide Web Foundation. He was knighted in 2004 and has received numerous accolades for his work including; Appointment to the Order of Merit, the A.M Turing award and the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

The Challenges

Earlier this year the world marked the 30th anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web and Berners-Lee issued a warning over its future. He outlined three areas of ‘dysfunction’ that were harming the web today.

These were;

  • malicious activity such as hacking and harassment
  • problematic system design such as business models that reward clickbait
  • unintended consequences, such as aggressive or polarised discussions

With cybercrime and the importance for businesses to operate online safely, the challenges are growing. New challenges are also on the rise ranging from political discourse and the issue of fake news to fraud and cybercrime.

For Further Reading

Important People of Cyber – Hedy Lamar

Important People of Cyber – Charles Babbage

A History of Hacking

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