Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Honoris causa

  • Presentation
  • Investiture Ceremony
  • Professional Background

Professional Background

Tim Berners-Lee graduated from the Queen's College at Oxford University, England, 1976. Whilst there he built his first computer with a soldering iron, TTL gates, an M6800 processor and an old television.

He spent two years with Plessey Telecommunications Ltd (Poole, Dorset, UK) a major UK Telecom equipment manufacturer, working on distributed transaction systems, message relays, and bar code technology.

In 1978 Tim left Plessey to join D.G Nash Ltd (Ferndown, Dorset, UK), where he wrote among other things typesetting software for intelligent printers, and a multitasking operating system.

A year and a half spent as an independent consultant included a six month stint (Jun-Dec 1980) as consultant software engineer at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Whilst there, he wrote for his own private use his first program for storing information including using random associations. Named "Enquire", and never published, this program formed the conceptual basis for the future development of the World Wide Web.

From 1981 until 1984, Tim worked at John Poole's Image Computer Systems Ltd, with technical design responsibility. Work here included real time control firmware, graphics and communications software, and a generic macro language. In 1984, he took up a fellowship at CERN, to work on distributed real-time systems for scientific data acquisition and system control. Among other things, he worked on FASTBUS system software and designed a heterogeneous remote procedure call system.

In 1989, he proposed a global hypertext project, to be known as the World Wide Web. Based on the earlier "Enquire" work, it was designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents. He wrote the first World Wide Web server, "httpd", and the first client, "WorldWideWeb" a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hypertext browser/editor which ran in the NeXTStep environment. This work was started in October 1990, and the program "WorldWideWeb" first made available within CERN in December, and on the Internet at large in the summer of 1991.

Through 1991 and 1993, Tim continued working on the design of the Web, coordinating feedback from users across the Internet. His initial specifications of URIs, HTTP and HTML were refined and discussed in larger circles as the Web technology spread.

In 1994, Tim founded the World Wide Web Consortium at the Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Since that time he has served as the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium which coordinates Web development worldwide, with teams at MIT, at ERCIM in Europe, and at Keio University in Japan. The Consortium takes as its goal to lead the Web to its full potential, ensuring its stability through rapid evolution and revolutionary transformations of its usage. The Consortium may be found at http://www.w3.org.

In 1999, he became the first holder of the 3Com Founders chair at LCS which merged with the Artificial Intelligence Lab to become "CSAIL", the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He is the 3COM Founders Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at CSAIL where he also heads the Decentralized Information Group (DIG). In December 2004 he was named a Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Southampton, UK, at which he holds a Chair. He is co-Director of the new Web Science Research Initiative (WSRI) launched in 2006.

He is the author of Weaving the Web, on the past, present and future of the Web



Kilby Foundation's "Young Innovator of the Year" Award
Premio ACM Software Systems Awards (co-recipient)
Honorary Prix Ars Electronica Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society


Awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE)
IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computers and Communications Award
Duddell Medal of the Institute of Physics
Interactive Services Association's Distinguished Service Award
MCI Computerworld/Smithsonian Award for Leadership in Innovation
International Communication Institute's Columbus Prize


Charles Babbage Award
Mountbatten Medal of the National Electronics Council
Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran Prize from the Foundation for Science and Technology
PC Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award in Technical Excellence
MacArthur Fellowship
Rhein Technology Award
Honorary Fellow, Institution of Electrical Engineers


Named "One of the 100 greatest minds of the century" by Time Magazine
World Technology Award for Communication Technology
Honorary Fellowship, The Society for Technical Communications


Paul Evan Peters Award of ARL, Educause and CNI
Electronic Freedom Foundation's Pioneer Award
George R Stibitz Computer Pioneer Award, American Computer Museum
Special Award for Outstanding Contribution, World Television Forum


Sir Frank Whittle Medal, the Royal Academy of Engineering
Fellow, Royal Society
Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences


Japan Prize, the Science and Technology Foundation of Japan
Prince of Asturias Foundation Prize for Scientific and Technical Research (shared with Larry Roberts, Rob Kahn and Vint Cerf)
Fellow, Guglielmo Marconi Foundation
Albert Medal of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Art, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)


Ttulo de Sir Knighted (KBE) by H.M. the Queen for services to the global development of the Internet
Millennium Technology Prize
Special Award of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Member, American Philosophical Society


Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service for Mass Communications
Die Quadriga Award
Financial Times Lifetime Achievement Award


President's Medal, the Institute of Physics


Order of Merit by H.M. the Queen
Charles Stark Draper Prize, National Academy of Engineering
Lovelace Medal, British Computer Society
D&AD President's Award for Innovation and Creativity
MITX (Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange) Leadership Award
Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Engineering


IEEE/RSE Wolfson James Clerk Maxwell Award
Fellow, IEEE
Pathfinder Award, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Honorary Degrees

Parsons School of Design, New York (D.F.A., 1995)
Southampton University (D.Sc., 1995)
Essex University (D.U., 1998)
Southern Cross University (1998)
Open University (D.U., 2000)
Columbia University (D.Law, 2001)
Oxford University (D.Sc., 2001)
University of Port Elizabeth (DSc., 2002)
Lancaster University (D.Sc., 2004)

Selected Publications

Berners-Lee, T. J., et al., "World-Wide Web: Information Universe", Electronic Publishing: Research, Applications and Policy, April 1992.

Berners-Lee, T. J., et al., "The World Wide Web", Communications of the ACM, August 1994.

Berners-Lee, T. J.; Fischetti, M., Weaving the Web, Harper San Francisco (1999).

Berners-Lee, T. J.; Connolly, D.; R. Swick, R., "Web Architecture: Describing and Exchanging Data", W3C Note 6-7 (1999).

Berners-Lee, T. J.; Hendler, J., "Publishing on the Semantic Web", Nature, April 26 2001, pp. 1023-1025.

Berners-Lee, T. J.; Hendler, J.; Lassila, O., "The Semantic Web", Scientific American, May 2001, pp. 29-37.

Berners-Lee, T. J.; Hendler, J.; Miller, E., "Integrating Applications on the Semantic Web", Journal of the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan, Vol. 122(10), October 2002, pp. 676-680.

Berners-Lee, T. J.; Hall, W.; Shadbolt, N.; "The Semantic Web Revisited", IEEE Intelligent Systems Journal, May/June 2006, pp. 96-101.

Web Science Workshop Report, September 12 and 13 2005. Hosted by the British Computer Society, London.

Berners-Lee, T. J.; Hall, W.; Shadbolt, N.; Weitzner, D. J. "Computer Science: Enhanced: Creating a Science of the Web", Science Vol. 313, August 11 2006, pp. 769-771

Berners-Lee, T.; Hall, W.; Hendler, J.; O'Hara, K.; Shadbolt, N.; Weitzner, D. J. "A Framework for Web Science", Foundations and Trends in Web Science, Volume 1, Issue 1 (also available as a book: ISBN: 1-933019-33-6 144pp September 2006).

(See a full list of publications.)

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