Happy Birthday Sir Tim Berners-Lee!

“If you can imagine a computer doing something, you can program a computer to do that. Unbounded opportunity… limited only by your imagination. And a couple of laws of physics.”

Today is the 62nd birthday of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a significant but perhaps under-appreciated innovator that we definitely owe a lot to!

In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. At the time, if you wanted to get information off another computer, you had to get up and go and sit at that computer. And because different computers used different operating systems and software, you would have needed a range of different skills and experience in order to do this.

Berners-Lee originally wrote a program that would convert information between different systems, and eventually this progressed and developed, and became the World Wide Web as we know it.

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The first website was put online on 6 August 1991. Sadly it no longer exists, but the URL was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html, and it featured information regarding the WWW project, information on how to create your own webpage, and how to search the Web.

In a 2009 interview with the BBC, Berners-Lee admitted that the two forward slashes at the beginning of every Web address actually serve no purpose, apologising that “it seemed like a good idea at the time”.

In 2012, Berners-Lee was part of the London Olympics opening ceremony. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a reminder:

When asked about whether he felt the Web was a good idea or a bad one, Berners-Lee explained: “I think the main thing to remember is that any really powerful thing can be used for good or evil. Dynamite can be used to build tunnels or to make missiles. Engines can be put in ambulances or tanks. Nuclear power can be used for bombs or for electrical power. So what is made of the Web is up to us. You, me, and everyone else.”

Earlier this year, he spoke to The Guardian about how the Web has lived up to his original vision. He expressed his concern over the control of personal data, the spreading of misinformation, and transparency in political advertising, and urged Web users to “build the web we want – for everyone”.

If you’re feeling inspired, why not check out our Computing courses?

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