was well established back then, it was
politically inappropriate to use Internet
protocols in Europe, because Europe
was trying to stick to ISO protocols.
There were a few people who used the
Internet anyway, like Ben Segal, who was
one of my mentors at CERN and suggested it would be a good way to go, even
though it wasn’t officially the way to go.
Your manager at CERN, Mike Sendall,
also took what seems, in retrospect, like
an amazing institutional leap of faith in
allowing you to build the World Wide
Mike didn’t have an official excuse
And then, in 1989, you invented the
for creating a global hypertext system,
(graphical user interfaces). It was very
exciting, and my parents and their col-
leagues were full of immense challenge
World Wide Web. What stands out for
you now about that time?
A few things are worth picking out.
For instance, even though the Internet
BUILDING A DECENTRALIZED platform
like the World Wide Web is, in many
ways, a crucial test of one’s ability to let
go, but ACM A.M. Turing Award recipient Sir Tim Berners-Lee is proud of the
explosive creativity his invention has
fostered. However, that does not mean
he is done refining his creation: now a
professor at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology (MIT) and Oxford University, Berners-Lee is still passionately involved in the fight to keep the Web open
and available to all, protect people’s personal data, and stop the spread of fake
Your parents were both programmers.
They were mathematicians, and
they worked for Ferranti, which was
This Is for Everyone
Sir Tim Berners-Lee on the formative years of
the World Wide Web, and the challenges it now faces.
DOI: 10.1145/3081058 Leah Hoffmann
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