The passing of Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest-serving monarch, marks the end of an era not just for Britain but for the world at large. That includes the global scientific and technological community. Over the course of her long reign, the queen bestowed various honors on various leaders in science and technology, her own being knights of the science and technology table. We mark her passing with a select list of some of the foremost scientists and technologists so honored.
Jony Ive has had a huge influence on the design of Apple products, most notably the distinctive look of the iMac, Power Mac G4 Cube, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and MacBook. He can also blame his obsession with thinness on the problematic butterfly keyboard and removal of the MacBook’s MagSafe power connector, HDMI port, and SD card readers. Nobody is perfect.
I started his career at a London design firm called Tangerine, where he was commissioned to design common household products like microwave ovens, toilets, drills, and toothbrushes. But she found the job frustrating, since clients often didn’t share her stripped-down modern tastes. After one of those clients rejected his design for a toilet and bidet, he decided to accept an offer to join Apple, even though it meant moving his family to the US. He got off to a rocky start and allegedly almost gave up. . Steve Jobs convinced him to stay when Jobs returned to the company after his infamous ouster in 1985.
I became senior vice president of industrial design in 1997, and his first big hit was the iMac, introduced in 1998, notable for its striking clear translucent plastic casing. That early design success led to many others. He and Jobs shared a similar vision and were so close that there was a hidden corridor connecting their offices at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. I also played a vital role in the design of Apple Park, which was completed in 2017. He left Apple in 2019 to start his own independent company.
Queen Elizabeth II knighted Ive on New Year’s Eve 2011 for “services to design and business”, making him Sir Jonathan Ive.
Where would we be today without the visionary work of Tim Berners-Lee? This is the man who invented the World Wide Web while working at CERN in Switzerland in the 1980s. He can also blame you for the initial pair of double slashes on all web links, which he later admitted were “unnecessary”. He started out as an independent contractor at CERN in 1980, where he proposed a system to facilitate the exchange and updating of information among laboratory researchers, based on the concept of hypertext. He called his prototype system INQUIRE.
Berners-Lee spent the next several years working for a computer company in Dorset, England, developing a “real-time remote procedure call”. When he returned to CERN as a fellow in 1984, he took advantage of that experience in computer networks to link various existing individual elements: hypertext, the Internet, multi-source text objects, etc.
“I had to put them together,” he said in 2007. “It was a generalization step, going to a higher level of abstraction, thinking of all the documentation systems that exist as possibly part of a larger imaginary documentation system.”
He and Robert Cailliau ended up building a system based on the bones of INQUIRE. Berners-Lee built the first web browser and launched the first website on December 20, 1990, hosted on the CERN server. He made sure his creation was freely available, avoiding patents or royalties, so anyone could use the technology. He founded the World Wide Web Consortium to create compatible standards and continually improve the quality of the Web.
Berners-Lee was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004; she also made him a member of the prestigious Order of Merit in 2007.