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Thomas Reardon

Thomas Reardon
Born 1969 (age 46–47)
Fields Information technology
Computational neuroscience
Institutions Columbia University
Alma mater Columbia University
Duke University
Doctoral advisor Thomas Jessell
Known for Internet Explorer
Notable awards TR35 (2003)

Thomas Reardon (born 1969) is an American programmer and former developer at Microsoft. He is credited with creating Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer, which is currently the second-largest web browser by market share in the world, bundled with Microsoft Windows, and used by 40 percent of internet users worldwide.[1]

Reardon is originally from New Hampshire, from an Irish-Catholic background. He is one of 18 siblings. Described as a "math and computer prodigy", Reardon took graduate-level math and science classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology while in high school. After graduating from high school, he moved to North Carolina to start a software company. While there, he met Bill Gates and joined Microsoft as a program manager on the Windows 95 and Windows 97 projects.[2]

At one point, Reardon constituted Microsoft's entire Internet Explorer development team.[1] He developed and oversaw the release of Internet Explorer 3 in 1996, and came up with the idea of bundling Internet Explorer with the Microsoft Windows operating system.[2] IE3 was the first incarnation of Explorer to seriously compete with Netscape Navigator, which until that point had been the most popular browser. Under Reardon's leadership, Internet Explorer surpassed Netscape Navigator as the most-used web browser in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in what came to be known as the First Browser War. Reardon is one of the founders of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and worked with W3C and other standards agencies as Microsoft's representative to establish many of the standards and precedents that still govern the World Wide Web.[3] Reardon was one of the earliest advocates and architects of the XML, CSS, and HTML languages.[4][5]

In 2001, Microsoft became embroiled in antitrust litigation, United States v. Microsoft Corp as a result of the browser war with Netscape. Reardon expressed disillusionment with Microsoft after the Netscape ordeal, ultimately deciding to leave to start a wireless networking startup called Avogadro.[4] He later joined OpenWave, a mobile software company, where he served as general manager and then Vice President, finally being appointed Chief Technology Officer, a post he held until 2004.[2][6] At OpenWave, he worked on developing the first mobile web browser.[7] In 2003, the MIT Technology Review named Reardon, then 34, one of its Top 35 Innovators Under 35, an annually published list recognizing innovators for "accomplishments that are poised to have a dramatic impact on the world as we know it".[1]

In 2004, Reardon left OpenWave and the tech industry to study Classics at the Columbia University School of General Studies.[2] He credits a conversation with physicist Freeman Dyson for inspiring him to "widen my world view":

"One conversation with Freeman Dyson provided me a tremendous desire to widen my world view—it amazed me that a legendary physicist would be so well read in the classics and have such affection for it. It pushed me to stretch a six-month sabbatical in 2004 into four years of a liberal arts education at Columbia GS"[7]

Reardon earned a BA magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in Literature and Classical Languages from Columbia in 2008, and an MS in Neurobiology from Duke University in 2010.[7][8] He is currently pursuing a PhD in Neurobiology and Behavior under Thomas Jessell at Columbia.[7]


  1. ^ a b c "Thomas Reardon, 34". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d Mocarski, Michelle (April 20, 2012). "GS Class Day speaker swapped computers for classics". Columbia Spectator. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Silwa, Carol (July 29, 1996). "Microsoft and Netscape Take Battle to Distributed Object Front". Network World (13 ,31). 
  4. ^ a b Costello, Sam (November 6, 2000). "Start-up CEO reveals little about company's big wireless dreams". Infoworld. 
  5. ^ Ferranti, Marc (April 22, 1996). "Web group fights for HTML standard". Infoworld. 
  6. ^ Morris, Anne (February 18, 2003). "Smartphones not such a smart move – Openwave CTO". Total Telecom. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d O’Sullivan, Anna (May 7, 2012). "Internet Explorer Creator to Speak at Columbia University Graduation". Columbia School of General Studies. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "Thomas Reardon". Department of Neuroscience at Columbia. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
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