Robert Cailliau

Robert Cailliau

Robert Cailliau with an Apple Macintosh computer running his pioneering web browser, MacWWW
Photo CERN
Born (1947-01-26) 26 January 1947
Tongeren, Belgium
Alma mater Ghent University
University of Michigan
WWW's historical logo designed by Robert Cailliau

Robert Cailliau (born 26 January 1947) is a Belgian informatics engineer and computer scientist, mostly known for inventing the World Wide Web[1][2] together with Tim Berners-Lee, and creating the first web browser. He also designed the historical logo of the WWW, and organized the first International World Wide Web Conference at CERN in 1994.[3]


Cailliau was born in Tongeren, Belgium. In 1958 he moved with his parents to Antwerp. After secondary school he graduated from Ghent University in 1969 as civil engineer in electrical and mechanical engineering (Flemish: Burgerlijk Werktuigkundig en Elektrotechnisch ingenieur). He also has an MSc from the University of Michigan in Computer, Information and Control Engineering, 1971.

During his military service in the Belgian Army he maintained Fortran programs to simulate troop movements.[4]

In December 1974 he started working at CERN as a Fellow in the Proton Synchrotron (PS) division, working on the control system of the accelerator. In April 1987 he left the PS division to become group leader of Office Computing Systems in the Data Handling division.[5] In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee proposed a hypertext system for access to the many forms of documentation at and related to CERN.[6] Berners-Lee created the system, calling it World Wide Web, between September and December 1990. During this time, Cailliau and he co-authored a proposal for funding for the project.[7] Cailliau later became a key proponent of the project and developed with Nicola Pellow the first web browser for the Classic Mac OS operating system called MacWWW.[7][8][9][10]

In 1993, in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft Cailliau started the European Commission's first web-based project for information dissemination in Europe (WISE). As a result of his work with CERN's Legal Service, CERN released the web technology into the public domain on 30 April 1993.

In December 1993 Cailliau called for the first International WWW Conference which was held at CERN in May 1994.[7][11][12] The oversubscribed conference brought together 380 web pioneers and was a milestone in the development of the web. The conference led to the forming of the International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee which has organized an annual conference since then. Cailliau was a member of the Committee from 1994 until 2002.

In 1995 Cailliau started the "Web for Schools" project with the European Commission, introducing the web as a resource for education. After helping to transfer the web development from CERN to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), he devoted his time to public communication. He went on early retirement from CERN in January 2007.

Cailliau is now an active member of Newropeans, a pan-European political movement for which he and Luca Cominassi have recently drafted a proposal concerning the European information society.[13]

He is a public speaker on the past and future of the World Wide Web and delivered the keynote opening speech at the annual Runtime Revolution developer conference in Edinburgh, Scotland on September 1, 2009.



  1. Cailliau, R.; Ashman, H. (1999). "Hypertext in the Web --- a history". ACM Computing Surveys. 31 (4es): 35. doi:10.1145/345966.346036.
  2. Gillies, James; Cailliau, R. (2000). How the Web was born: the story of the World Wide Web. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-286207-3.
  3. Past and Future Conferences of WWW
  4. "Knack dossiers : Het web van Tongeren". Retrieved 2011-12-21.
  5. "WWW people". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  6. "Ten Years Public Domain for the Original Web Software". CERN. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  7. 1 2 3 Tim Berners-Lee. "Frequently asked questions - Robert Cailliau's role". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  8. Stewart, Bill. "Web Browser History". Living Internet. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  9. Berners-Lee, Tim (3 November 1992). "Macintosh Browser". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  10. Berners-Lee, Tim (3 November 1992). "Macintosh Browser". World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
  11. Robert Cailliau (21 July 2010). "A Short History of the Web". NetValley. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  12. "IW3C2 - Past and Future Conferences". International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee. 2010-05-02. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
  13. "European Information Society: Newropeans wants an avant-garde role for the EU". 11 March 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2014. External link in |publisher= (help)
  14. "Software System Award". ACM Awards. Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  15. "Geneve Reconnaissante Medal". CERN Courier. July 2001.
  16. Archived 29 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. 2012 Inductees, Internet Hall of Fame website. Last accessed April 24, 2012
Wikinews has an exclusive interview with Robert Cailliau :
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