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2014 Washburn Award Recipient

Sir Timothy Berners-Lee

Inventor of the World Wide Web

In 1989, while working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext project, to be known as the World Wide Web. It was designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents.

In 1999, he became the first holder of the 3Com Founders chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2004, and in 2007 he was awarded the Order of Merit. At the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympic Games, in a song and dance production called “Frankie and June say ... ‘Thanks, Tim,’” Berners-Lee appeared onstage at a computer connected to the stadium’s scoreboard and typed a simple message about his world-changing invention: “This is for everyone.”

Born in London, England in 1955, Berners-Lee learned about electronics from tinkering with model trains, and he built his first computer with a soldering iron, TTL gates, an M6800 processor, and an old television when he was at college. He earned a bachelor’s in physics from Oxford University in 1976.