Short Curriculum Vitae

Face of Robert Cailliau

Short CV of Dr. Ir. Robert Cailliau

This is a CV, there are also photos and a more personal story.

General data:

born 1947-01-26, Tongeren (BE).
Secondary school:  1957-1964 RijksAtheneum, B-2100 Deurne
University:  1964-1969 Rijksuniversiteit Gent, Burgerlijk Werktuigkundig en Elektrotechnisch Ingenieur. (Electrical & Mechanical Engineering, university of Ghent, Belgium).
Master of Science (U. Michigan, Ann Arbor) in Computer, Information and Control Engineering, 1971.

Professional activities:

July 1969—August 1971:  Assistant of Prof. H.Somerling at the University Laboratory for Mechanical Engineering and Machine Tools.  Involved in precision measurements on experimental setups by digitising them and processing the data by computer.

September 1971—May 1972:  M.Sc. degree, see above.

June 1972—November 1973:  Assistant to Prof. A. Van Cauwenberghe, Laboratory of Controls and Hybrid Computation.  Development of software for the hybrid computer and supervision of student's engineering thesis work.  Assisting other laboratories in solving their computational problems.  Developed a operating system for the analog computer under control of its digital partner.  A collaboration with CERN on the computer control of a subsystem of the PS Booster accelerator resulted in a Fellowship at CERN.

December 1973—November 1974:  Military service duties in the Belgian Army.  (Appointed to the computing service of the War Department).  Responsible for a large FORTRAN simulation program.

December 1974—2007:  Employment at CERN.

I started work in the PS (Proton Synchrotron) division, first as a fellow, later as staff member, on the improvement programme for the control system of the PS accelerator complex.  Design and implement the P+ distributed process control language.  In April 1987 I left the PS division to become group leader of Office Computing Systems (OCS) in Data Handling division.

End 1989, at the restructuring of CERN, I change to the ECP (Electronics & Computing for Physics) Division, and in 1990, with Tim Berners-Lee propose a hypertext system for access to the CERN documentation.  This leads to the World-Wide Web.  Tim had a prototype on NeXTStep.  We got together to develop and promote this software. The name "world-wide web" was coined during that period (May 1990).

1992:  I started the first Macintosh browser (multi-windowing and also editor), (all efforts on the client side were later pre-empted by Mosaic from NCSA).

1993:  I started the authentication scheme for the Web and supervised its implementation.  I worked with CERN's Legal Service to produce and get approved the document whereby CERN placed the web technology into the public domain (30 April 1993).
I also started "WISE", the first Web based project at the European Commission (DGXIII) together with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft (Darmstadt) at the end of 1993.  At that same time, I also split the CERN laboratory information server from the purely Web technical information server.  I started the series of International World-Wide Web Conferences, by calling the first one in December 1993; it took place at CERN in May 1994.  The conferences are now run by the IW3C2 (International WWW Conference Committee), of which I am co-founder (August 1994) and was a long-time Chairman.

During 1995 I was active in the transfer of the WWW development effort and the standards activities from CERN to the Web Consortium W3C.  In December 1995 the ACM attributed the Software System Award to Tim Berners-Lee, myself (both for WWW), M. Andreessen and E. Bina (both for Mosaic).

I started with the European Commission the Web for Schools project which has given support and access to 150 schools in the European Union.

Once WWW was safely transferred to W3C I gradually diminished the workload coming from WWW related events. In 2000 I joined the Education and Technology Transfer unit where I was responsible for External Communications.  Finally in 2007 I retired from work at CERN.


Apart from various scientific and general publications (ranging from mechanical engineering to computing) the important one is the much-needed history of the World Wide Web, a book written with James Gillies (95% his work!)
This book has also been translated into a German version and an Italian version.


1995:  ACM Software System Award (with Tim Berners-Lee)
1999:  Plantin Prize, Antwerp
1999:  Dr. Hon. Southern Cross University
2000:  Dr. Hon. University of Ghent
2001:  Médaille Genève Reconnaissante (with Tim Berners-Lee)
2004:  Commander in the Order of King Leopold (awarded by King Albert II of Belgium)
2006:  Award Vermeylenfonds (Cultuurprijs) - Honorary Citizen of Tongeren - Award of the Province of Limburg (Medaille van verdienste)
2008:  Gouden Penning Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten (gold medal of the Royal Flemish Academy for Sciences and Arts)
2009: Dr. Hon. Université de Liège, together with Tim Berners-Lee

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next planned revision: 2009-11