Updated – The little known story of Dr Walter Hoogland: The catalyst who made the World Wide Web possible



first posted on Jun 11, 2012 @ 21:12 – updated 30 April 2013

Prof Walter Hoogland was one of the earliest people to spot the potential of feynlabs – and in less than a year feynlabs has come a long way. I saw the original document at CERN on facebook today and hence the update to this post

As part of my work, I have the pleasure of meeting many smart, clued-on people.

It’s a perk of the job – and also a great learning experience.

However, sometimes you meet someone – and don’t know who they really are until you Google their name

I met Dr Walter Hoogland in his current capacity as a leading research advisor for some major research initiatives in Amsterdam when I chaired the Apps for Smart cities event

In conversation, Walter mentioned that he was once the Director or Research at CERN

CERN of course is where Tim Berners Lee created the World Wide Web

When the Web was first created, Robert Cailliau, who was one of the first converts to the philosophy of the Web – worked with CERN’s management to give the WWW technology away without royalties and as Tim Berners Lee says – ‘This was hugely important for the future of the WWW’.

In a 2010 talk, Robert Cailliau said: During his talk Robert asked Walter Hoogland, former CEO at CERN, to stand up and then he explained that HE signed the document that transferred all rights for the World Wide Web to the world and away from CERN. The audience launched into a loud applause. Thanks to him we now have a free and world wide Web.

It turns out that this was the same Dr Walter Hoogland I met in Amsterdam for a coffee ..

That’s amazing ..

Think of it:. Had CERN, with Dr Walter Hoogland, as director of research NOT released the IPR for Web royalty free .. We would never have had the World Wide Web as we know it today ..

Having found this story, I mentioned it to many in Amsterdam and Europe ..

No one had heard of it ..

Hence the blog .. And I am sure you will agree that it is a very commendable achievement

Incidentally, I met Walter because he was interested in my latest project Concepts of programming languages for kids and we are indeed very fortunate to have Walter guide us for this idea

In a world obsessed with IPR and litigation, it is indeed fortunate that the Web (and humanity) encountered such a forward thinking person as Dr Walter Hoogland in it’s nascent stage of evolution

The above photo of Walter was taken by me for this blog in a subsequent meeting

Many thanks to Ger Baron for the introduction


  1. Melissa says:

    What an interesting story! Thanks for sharing. Thanks to him companies like mine have free reign on the web to develop new ideas and keep moving forward.