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Why the Man Who Invented the Web Isn’t Rich

Why the Man Who Invented the Web Isn't Rich

I hadn’t realized that the World Wide Web turned 21 this week until I saw the nice birthday card that Megan Garber sent it yesterday. And it’s a good thing I did–because otherwise I would have missed a fabulous recycling opportunity!

In the summer of 2001, shortly before the 10th birthday of the web, I did a Time Magazine profile of its creator, Tim Berners-Lee. Re-reading it just now drove home how young the web was back then, and how much it’s changed. (Berners-Lee was critical of the state of the web when I interviewed him, but I think his criticism has lost some of its force.) The profile also reminded me what a thoroughly decent and public-spirited guy Tim Berners-Lee is. Sometimes people who do great things turn out to be jerks, but he definitely isn’t such a case. One other thing Tim Berners-Lee isn’t is fabulously wealthy–and finding out why he hadn’t taken the road to riches (and that he almost had) was for me one of the more interesting outcomes of this reporting project.

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Below are the first few paragraphs of the piece. If you like them, you can click on a hyperlink, which will take you to Time’s website, where you can read the whole piece and learn about, among other things, the evolution of the hyperlink.

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