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The theme our newsletter this week is the power that technology has to bring about change, and what better way to combine this with our love for promoting everything British than by celebrating one of our nation’s greatest inventions, the world wide web, and our continued innovation in internet technologies ever since?
It is widely regarded that the biggest leap forward in the history of humanity, perhaps only contended by the invention of the wheel (that I think us Brits will have to concede to the Sumerians) was the invention of the internet. The internet bought untold efficiency to every trade and industry and is so ubiquitous that to even state such a thing seems ludicrous. The internet simply ‘is’, the pandora’s box that has been opened, with no going back.
The man behind it all was British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee (now Sir). Sir Berners-Lee grew up in London before journeying to Oxford to study Physics. His parents, computer scientists themselves, helped to design some of the world’s earliest computers, so it’s easy to see where Berners-Lee caught the bug. While working at CERN in 1989, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland known for it’s Large Hadron Collider, Sir Berners-Lee wrote the first web client and server, creating a way to help scientists share data across a then-obscure platform that he coined the ‘World Wide Web’.
Today, the internet has vastly improved every aspect of our lives. We speak to friends, family and colleagues on the other side of the world at the touch of a button, order innumerable items of all descriptions to our doors with a click and can be reminded to buy a pint of milk when we arrive at the supermarket.
Sir Berners-Lee’s invention has gone on to create a space for numerous billion-dollar companies and trillion-dollar industries all over the world, but most importantly, here in the UK. While lesser known than the famous ‘Silicon Valley’ of the states, the UK has spawned a few of its own hotbeds of technological innovation; ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in Shoreditch is one, and don’t forget the snappily named ‘Eastern end of the M4 corridor’ towards Reading. These locations, along with clusters in the world-famous University towns of Cambridge and Oxford, are home to countless .com and tech businesses from big names such as Facebook and Google to world-leading British digital solutions companies, and a large proportion of the UK’s ‘Unicorn Companies’ (companies that have reached a valuation of $1bn dollars), of which the UK has the third most in the world. In 2020, a technology company was started every 30 minutes in the UK and the industry as a whole has showed consistently strong growth, contributing an estimated £150bn to the economy and creating the 3rd largest e-commerce economy in the world.
Where would the world be without us Brits, eh?