Hardly anyone mentions the term World Wide Web or writing WWW today, but every time we do a Google search, make a purchase on eBay, check our status on Facebook, or fire off a tweet, we in part owe our ability to do so to Tim Berners-Lee, the London-born initiator of the development of HTTP and inventor of the World Wide Web.
Computing’s Nobel Prize
The 61-year-old Berners-Lee is the recipient of the 2016 ACM A.M. Turing Award. The prestigious award named in honour of British mathematician Alan Mathison Turing, who was instrumental in British code-breaking work during World War II, is considered the computing world’s Nobel Prize.
The award carries a $1 million prize, with financial support provided by Google, Inc.
Berners-Lee was cited for inventing the World Wide Web, which is the first web browser, and the fundamental protocols and algorithms which allow the Internet to scale.
The impact of the World Wide Web
“The first-ever World Wide Web site went online in 1991,” said ACM President Vicki L. Hanson. “Although this doesn’t seem that long ago, it is hard to imagine the world before Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s invention. In many ways, the colossal impact of the World Wide Web is obvious.”
Hanson said Berners-Lee provided the technical underpinning that made the Web possible.
“Sir Tim Berners-Lee not only developed the key components, such as URIs and web browsers that allow us to use the Web but offered a coherent vision of how each of these elements would work together as part of an integrated whole,” said Hanson.
“The Web has radically changed the way we share ideas and information and is a key factor for global economic growth and opportunity,” said Andrei Broder, Google Distinguished Scientist. “The idea of a Web of knowledge originated in a brilliant 1945 essay by Vannevar Bush. Over the next decades, several pieces of the puzzle came together: hypertext, the Internet, personal computing. But the explosive growth of the Web started when Tim Berners-Lee proposed a unified user interface to all types of information supported by a new transport protocol.”
How the Web was developed
Berners-Lee graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Physics.
He noticed that scientists were having difficulty sharing information about particle accelerators.
He submitted his proposal for the World Wide Web in 1989 while working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
In 1989, interconnectivity among computers via Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) had been in existence for a decade, and while segments of the scientific community were using the Internet, the kinds of information they could easily share was limited, according to ACM.
Berners-Lee envisioned a system where CERN staff could exchange documents over the Internet using readable text that contained embedded hyperlinks.
To make his proposed information-sharing system work, Berners-Lee invented several integrated tools that would underpin the World Wide Web, including:
- Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) that would serve to allow any object (such as a document or image) on the Internet to be named, and thus identified
- Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) that allows for the exchange, retrieval, or transfer of an object over the Internet
- Web browser, a software application that retrieves and renders resources on the World Wide Web along with clickable links to other resources, and, in the original version, allowed users to modify Webpages and make new links
- Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) that allows web browsers to translate documents or other resources and render them as multimedia Webpages
Berners-Lee launched the world’s first website, http://info.cern.ch, on August 6, 1991.
Time Magazine named him to the list of the100 Most Important People of the 20th century,
During the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony he was honoured as the Inventor of the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee was at the ceremony. Working on a vintage NeXT Computer he tweeted: This is for everyone.”
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