Fifteen years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web with a noble vision for it as “a force for individual, regional and global understanding.” 1, 2.

Congratulations Tim, you old hacker you! (And I mean that in a good way!)

I am sure that there are days when Tim’s excited about the World Wide Web and where it’s going, and days he curses some of the things done with it.

But Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who was knighted in 2004) did literally give the World Wide Web to the world.

Tim Berners-Lee’s made his idea available freely, with no patent and no royalties due. The World Wide Web Consortium (which is also his brainchild founded in 1994) decided that their standards must be based on royalty-free technology, so they can be easily adopted by anyone.

Now Tim continues to innovate with his latest project the Semantic Web, started in December 2004 when he accepted a chair in Computer Science at the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, UK.

The Semantic Web is another great project that is so powerful it can only be used for good or evil (quote from Firesign Theatre). It has great potential for helping to correlate data from around the world in an effort to help solve many of the world’s health and disease problems, etc., but it can also be used as a dangerous tool in the wrong hands. I hope it will be used for good.

The first ever webpage was at http://info.cern.ch (no longer available) and was first put online on August 6, 1991. And according to the Wikipedia entry on Tim Berners-Lee, it provided an explanation about what the World Wide Web was, how one could own a browser and how to set up a Web server. It was also the world’s first Web directory, since Berners-Lee maintained a list of other Web sites apart from his own.

You can find out more about Tim Berners-Lee and what he’s up to at his timbl blog and at W3C, LivingInternet.com, and of course at Wikipedia. There was a write up about Tim in here on Time 100 – Scientists and Thinkers where they write:

Tim Berners-Lee – From the thousands of interconnected threads of the Internet, he wove the World Wide Web and created a mass medium for the 21st century

And this:

Unlike so many of the inventions that have moved the world, this one truly was the work of one man. Thomas Edison got credit for the light bulb, but he had dozens of people in his lab working on it. William Shockley may have fathered the transistor, but two of his research scientists actually built it. And if there ever was a thing that was made by committee, the Internet — with its protocols and packet switching — is it. But the World Wide Web is Berners-Lee’s alone. He designed it. He loosed it on the world. And he more than anyone else has fought to keep it open, nonproprietary and free.

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