The author

Research and Industry: Internet and the Web

Steven Pemberton, CWI, Amsterdam


Programming Languages

CWI has a long history of development of programming languages: e.g. Algol60, Algol68.

I arrived here in 1982 on a sabbatical to help design a programming language.

Result: ABC

Used for cryptographic research, the basis of many cryptographic results used now.


Guido van Rossum working on an Operating System project, took ABC and developed a systems programming language based on it: Python.

Now amongst the top 5 languages worldwide.


November 1988, CWI is Europe's first internet node (speed 64kbps!)

We spin off two companies to introduce internet: one for the Netherlands, one for Europe.


We went on to develop a computing environment, Views.Views

If you saw it now, you would call it a browser:

The Web

When the web came along we understood what it was about.

I organised two workshops at the first web conference.

My research group span off the first Dutch Web company.

I helped with early work at W3C, and became chair of the HTML working group there for a decade.

Helped design HTML, CSS, XHTML, XForms, RDFa and several other technologies.

This group has also helped design SMIL, Timed Text, and epub.


Originally designed as a language for Forms on the web.

Now an application language/framework.

Reduces production time by an order of magnitude.

Poster-child example:

A certain company makes BIG machines (walk in): user interface is very demanding — traditionally needed 5 years, 30 people.

With XForms this became: 1 year, 10 people.

Do the sums. Assume one person costs 100k a year. Then this has gone from a 15M cost to a 1M cost. They have saved 14 million! (And 4 years)


My conclusion:

CWI has injected HUGE amounts of value into the world economy.

Research institutes can have the long-term vision to develop the things that industry will need outside their product-development timeframes.