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Tim Berners-Lee has invented something that is becoming as ubiquitous as man himself. It affects us all; it is used by millions of people all over the world. Tim Berners-Lee has invented the World Wide Web.
He was born on 8th June, 1955, in London, England. His parents were quintessential computer geeks. As a matter of fact, they met when they were working on the first computer to be commercially sold. It was natural that they encouraged him to think and work innovatively as he grew up. Tim Berners-Lee was raised in London, and studied at the Queen's College at Oxford University.
Tim had inherited his parent's interest in computer technology. In 1976, he set about building his own computer. He used tools and paraphernalia that could be found in the house. Tim took up employment with Plessey Telecommunications Ltd., a major UK Telecom equipment manufacturer. Working on bar code technology and message systems helped further whet his appetite for computer systems.
One of the most common sights would be to find Tim immersed in his work oblivious to the world. Tim Berners-Lee once famously said that, "Anyone who has lost track of time when using a computer knows the propensity to dream, the urge to make dreams come true, and the tendency to miss lunch." Tim Berners-Lee's Internet adventure started in the Swiss Alps. He was completing a six-month course as a software engineer at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, in Geneva. In 1980, he came up with a language called HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language). This has been adopted as the official language for the Internet.
The world got its first glimpse at the World Wide Web when Tim put up the first web site called info.cern.ch. It explained the working of the World Wide Web and all about servers and browsers. It also had a facility to compile a database of other websites. It was a website-cum-directory-cum-primitive search engine. People started putting up all kinds of information on the Internet. The possibilities that it threw up were enormous. The number of Internet users was growing at an exponential speed. They were doubling in less than two months time.
The entire concept of the Internet grew out of a program that Tim Berners-Lee had written called 'Enquire Within Upon Everything'. All the components were already there before Tim Berners-Lee had arrived, but it is to his credit that he brought it all together. One man has ensured that the rest of mankind will be forever connected to each other. Tim's greatness lies in the fact that he does not seem to be perturbed about the fact that he has not commercially gained from his idea. He did not ever think of applying for a patent. In 1994, he founded World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science in Cambridge, Massachusetts. All technology standards from this institute are based on royalty free technology. According to Eric Schmidt, CEO of Novell, "If this were a traditional science, Berners-Lee would win a Nobel Prize."
Most of Tim Berners-Lee's admirers lie in academic circles. There are not many people who have even heard of him outside the world of technology. He has won a number of national and international awards. In 1995, Tim Berners-Lee received the Kilby Foundation's 'Young Innovator of the Year' Award; other awards that he has received include the Charles Babbage Award, PC Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in Technical Excellence, Albert Medal of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Art, Manufactures, and Commerce. International accolades include George R. Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award at the American Computer Museum, Japan Prize from the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan, and Finland's Millennium Technology Prize.
In 2004, the British Government honored him by conferring upon him the rank of Knight Commander (the second-highest rank in the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II. On January 27, 2005, he was named Greatest Briton of 2004 for his achievements as well as displaying the key British characteristics of 'diffidence, determination, a sharp sense of humor and adaptability'.
Tim's greatest achievement is, however, the fact that he almost seems to resent the attention that is occasionally showered upon him. He seems happiest when he is left to himself, doing his research. Tim is married to Nancy Carlson. They have two children.