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Jean-Francois Abramatic

Last Edit: 31/01/19

Jean-Francois Abramatic is a French computer scientist -- born in Paris (1949), and studied at the École nationale supérieure des mines de Nancy -- who contributed to the development and popularity of the Internet by becoming the first chairman of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1996. The W3C was created by Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web) to develop the protocols and guidelines for the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web as an Internet service in 1991. By 1994, its popularity had grew to such an extent that the small team of CERN scientists, who had orginally started and managed the project, required a larger organisation to guide its long term growth: hence the creation of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Jean-Francois Abramatic: Chairman of the World Wide Web Consortium 1996-2001
(Pictured: Jean-Francois Abramatic (centre) with Robert Cailliau and Tim Berners-Lee -- Chairman of the World Wide Web Consortium 1996-2001)

The process of finding a European host for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) took some time, as CERN wanted to focus upon particle physics, rather than computer science/networking/information technology. By 1995, it was decided that the European host for the W3C would be the French Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation (INRIA). In the 1980s, Jean-Francois Abramatic became the director of research at INRIA, and worked on projects such as the MULTICS system (operating system that was originally designed by MIT, General Electric and Bell Laboratories) and GIPSI-SM90. By the end of the 1980s, J.F. Abramatic left INRIA to create a company (GIPSI) that manufactured X terminals (computer network terminals).

Jean-Francois Abramatic returned to INRIA in 1992, and when INRIA became the European host for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1995, he became a director of development for the W3C, and worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT/LCS) -- where the W3C was founded. He then became the president/chairman of the W3C in 1996, and held that post until 2001 -- Jean-Francois Abramatic is sometimes referred to as the first chairman of the W3C, but that may be a debatable claim as the organisation was led by others from 1994-1996. After stepping down as chairman of the W3C, Abramatic became a member of the W3C Advisory Board; created in 1998, the W3C Advisory Board provides "guidance to the Team on issues of strategy, management, legal matters, process, and conflict resolution".

Jean-Francois Abramatic is no longer a member of the W3C Advisory Board, but since 2009, he has held positions at IBM and INRIA.