Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. I owe him a huge thank you. I think we all do…

Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee.
Photograph reproduced with kind permission of Paul Clarke


Dear Tim

This is a website of thank yous, but those two words don’t do justice to what you have achieved, how you went about it and the legacy you have provided for all of us through your creation of the World Wide Web.

Most of the letters on this site come from my own memory, my heart and soul. But, in order to shape each in to a little story in its own right, there have been the occasional facts that I have needed to clarify: which year did the wrecking ball finally close the doors on the Sackville Hotel for the very last time? Was it 1972 or 1973 when Mrs Thatcher came to town? What day does August 1, 2020 fall on? What’s the name of the French accent on the letter e that makes it sound like an a? If I’d been writing this 30 years ago, I’d have had to list these questions, save up enough of them to make the trip worthwhile, then traipse off to the library to check them out. Today it is 2015 and, through the miracle of the Web that you created, I am able to check these facts in an instant, and without leaving my chair.

During breaks in writing, I am also riding the emotional rollercoaster that comes from watching the England cricket team take on the Australians for the Ashes. When I have needed to remind myself of the intricacies of the Decision Review System, the web has again come to my aid. During the same period, my wife and I visited Chartwell, the home of the greatest ever English Prime Minister where, on several occasions throughout our trip, your creation morphed in to a sat-nav, restaurant finder and Trip Advisor review system.

Finally, I would never know that I have a half-sister, Valerie, had she not been able to access the vast database of information that helps us trace one of the most important aspects of our lives, our ancestry. Neither could I have even dreamed of re-connecting with Shauna, my cousin in Canada, who I last saw in Kitchener, Ontario in August 1975 when she was just seven years old.

I often say how pleased I am that I lived through the period from the 1960s, because I realise how amazing technology is, how it has evolved and I value it every day. I remember when a phone was something with a receiver and a dial which was attached to the wall with a wire; when printers were noisy dot matrix devices (I marvelled at how they could print both ‘backwards’ as well as forwards) and how we used to communicate at work by writing with a pen on a memo. Youngsters just accept technology and feel no awe – it’s not their fault, they were born to it. But I’m glad that I find it amazing every day – and even more glad that you created those three letters: www.

Thank you.

Simon Bailey

You can see more of Paul Clarke’s photography at www.paulclarke.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *