Tim Berners-Lee

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Inventor of the web

Tim Berners-Lee (b. 1955) is the inventor of the web! Without Tim you might not read my words today.

The story of the web

In 1980, Tim Berners-Lee wrote a little program called Enquire that helped him link pieces of information together. The program itself was inspired by an old computer game Adventure. Unlike later Hypercard, Enquire would run on a multi-user system and make it possible for people to share data. Using his experience and the inspiration from the hypertext concept coined in the 1950s by Ted Nelson and derived from Vannevar Bush's Memex system (early 1940s), Tim Berners-Lee envisioned a system that could improve information exchange in large teams. In March 1989, while employed at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for improved information management. His main concern was to improve keeping track of large projects. His proposal was to build a system that would be distributed on remote machines, allow of heterogeneity, decentralized (i.e. growing freely at its nodes independently from other nodes), and privately extensible. He proposed a team of two people to develop the project within a year. His proposal's reference section clearly points to the seminal influences of Ted Nelson and other authors. By November of 1990, Tim started working on the prototype.

The world-wide-web, as it was then called, went into use at CERN in May 1991. By August 1991, its existence was announced to a number of Internet newsgroups. By 1994, the web edged out telnet to become the second most popular service on the Internet. In the percentage of byte traffic, it was only behind FTP-data. Today, the web is the single most important tool of global transformation.

Formula for genius

Tim Berners-Lee creatively combined his experience, and existing ideas into a breakthrough concept that changed the world (and we have barely seen the beginning). Building blocks of the world wide web are simple enough to be understood by a high school student. Yet their unique combination into a simple, extensible, and cohesive concept deservedly rewarded the genius of Tim Berners-Lee with the credit for the greatest human breakthrough since Gutenberg.

Future

Today, we need a new young brain like Tim who would work towards protocols for society as a concept network. Interestingly, Bill Gates might be interested in such a project (explained in Group polarization).

In the meantime, Tim works on an equally important project the semantic web.

Further reading



For more texts on memory, learning, sleep, creativity, and problem solving, see Super Memory Guru