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Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Net worth, quotes and incredible achievements of the World Wide Web inventor

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is on a mission to save data from Big Tech with Web 3.0  (Brad Barket / Stringer / Getty images )
Sir Tim Berners-Lee is on a mission to save data from Big Tech with Web 3.0 (Brad Barket / Stringer / Getty images )

More than thirty years ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee revolutionised life as we know it by changing the way we communicate and consume information.

On March 12, 1989, the London-born computer scientist submitted a proposal for an information management system to help his colleagues at CERN share information amongst themselves.

Impressed by the proposal, Sir Tim's boss allowed him time to work on the idea and by 1991 the World Wide Web was up and running.

Today, there are nearly two billion websites online and it is hard to imagine life without the web. This is all thanks to the genius of Sir Tim.

Today, you’ll often find him on a mission to save the world wide web from the power of new technologies and their creators.

Speaking at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon last year, he said: “Some people thought that tech people would save the world then. Now, we’re in a situation where there are a lot of things wrong with the Web.”

His solution is “a mid-course correction to take it back,” which he calls Web 3.0.

In addition, Sir Tim has spoken out about the dangers of cryptocurrency, calling it a form of gambling which “people get a kick out of”.

“It’s only speculative. Obviously, that’s really dangerous,” he told CNBC’s Beyond The Valley podcast.

“Investing in certain things which are purely speculative isn’t where I want to spend my time.”

Sir Tim is also set to be one of the speakers explaining “How Web 3.0 Technology and Data Policy Combine to Promote Data Sovereignty, Privacy, and Trust”. The event will be hosted by the Data Science Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science on Thursday, May 25.

Here's everything you need to know about Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Who is Sir Tim Berners-Lee?

 (PA)
(PA)

Born in London on June 8, 1955, Sir Tim's parents worked on the Ferranti Mark 1, the world's first commercially built computer, and he went on to study physics at the University of Oxford between 1973 and 1976.

After working for companies in Dorset, in 1980 he found work as an independent contractor at CERN in Geneva, where he first proposed a project based on the concept of hypertext.

He returned to Dorset at the end of 1980 before rejoining CERN as a fellow in 1984.

It was at CERN, in 1989, where he first proposed his "big idea” to create a common language that would open hyperlinks between all the various networks and by the early 1990s had created the World Wide Web.

The first ever website and web server, info.cern.ch, was put online on August 6, 1991, and the first webpage address was http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html.

He created the World Wide Web Consortium in 1994 and Sir Tim decided to make the Web available for free.

Since his landmark creation, Sir Tim worked with the Government to make data more accessible and open, and also launched the World Wide Web Foundation in 2009.

Sir Tim also co-founded the Open Data Institute, is working with the Alliance for Affordable Internet to get more people around the world online and is the project lead for the web decentralisation project Solid.

When did Tim Berners-Lee invent the World Wide Web?

His initial proposal, to create a system to allow CERN colleagues to share information, was submitted in 1989 after he reportedly grew frustrated at having to log onto different computers to gain access to information.

It took another few years of work on the project before the first page was put online, but by the end of 1991, info.cern.ch was launched.

The World Wide Web software was put into public domain in 1993 and it was later made available with an open licence, making it free for everyone.

How much is Tim Berners-Lee worth?

Reports about Sir Tim's wealth vary wildly, but it's safe to say he isn't poor.

The Wealth Record has his net worth at $60 million - or more than £45.5 million.

According to The Richest, his personal wealth is valued at $50 million while Celebrity Net Worth reckon he is worth $10 million.

How does Sir Tim feel about the World Wide Web now?

Sir Tim is a vocal supporter of the concept of net neutrality and of free Internet.

He previously told the Standard that he feels the concept of a free Internet is threatened by big companies.

"I used to say it was either government controlling the Internet, in countries like China, or big companies controlling the Internet, in countries like America," he said at the time.

"It actually turns out to be more subtle than that. In America, the big companies fund congressmen and election campaigns. There’s a popular bumper sticker in Washington, ‘Invest in America, buy a Congressman’. So you could say big companies control the government anyway. The biggest threat is for any large powerful force to take over the Internet."

One of his ideas is a “decentralised” Internet — a hive network where no one has overall control and believes monopolies are dangerous. He is also wary of the amount of private data and information people share online, and how the Web has been abused by companies.

He has also said the impact of fake news is increasingly concerning and has unveiled plans to tackle "unethical" political advertising and the harvesting of data.

Best Tim Berners-Lee quotes

“There are people working in the lab trying to imagine how the Web could be different. How society on the Web could look different. What could happen if we give people privacy and we give people control of their data? We are building a whole ecosystem.” – Interview with Vanity Fair

“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.” – A Framework for Web Science

"The Web was not a physical 'thing' that existed in a certain 'place'. It was a 'space' in which information could exist.”

"The original idea of the web was that it should be a collaborative space where you can communicate through sharing information.”

"The fact that we're all connected, the fact that we've got this information space — does change the parameters. It changes the way people live and work. It changes things for good and for bad. But I think, in general, it's clear that most bad things come from misunderstanding, and communication is generally the way to resolve misunderstandings — and the Web's a form of communications — so it generally should be good… We need to look at the whole society and think, "Are we actually thinking about what we're doing as we go forward, and are we preserving the really important values that we have in society? Are we keeping it democratic, and open, and so on?" – Interview with developerWorks

"When I invented the web, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission. Now, hundreds of millions of people are using it freely. I am worried that that is going to end in the USA. … Democracy depends on freedom of speech." - Berners-Lee T., Net Neutrality: This is Serious

“We demonstrated that the Web had failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done, and failed in many places” – Interview with Vanity Fair

“The biggest threat is for any large powerful force to take over the Internet.” –Evening Standard

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect. – W3.org