FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK, May 7, 2012—Thomas Reardon, who started the Microsoft Internet Explorer project, will address the Class of 2012 at the Columbia University School of General Studies graduation on May 13 at 9 a.m. in New York City. Reardon, who graduated from Columbia GS Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa in 2008, and was included in the 2003 list of the world’s 100 Top Young Innovators by MIT’s Technology Review, completed his Master of Science in neuroscience from Duke University in 2010 and is currently pursuing a doctorate in neurobiology at Columbia University.
Born in New Hampshire into a working class, Irish-Catholic family, Reardon is one of 18 children. He was a math and computer prodigy who was taking graduate level courses at Massachusetts Institute of Technology before he graduated from high school.
“After high school, I moved to North Carolina, and began my first software startup. From there, I was connected with Bill Gates, which jumpstarted my nine-year career with Microsoft,” Reardon said.
At 24 years old, while working on Windows 95, Reardon conceptualized Microsoft Internet Explorer, creating the project and acting as architect through its world-wide adoption in the late 1990s. He is hailed as a principle visionary of the corporation’s adoption of the Internet and Web technologies and its move from proprietary technologies toward open standards.
Reardon, who holds six U.S. patents, was a founding board member and technical advisor to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) where he was instrumental in the development and implementation of languages HTML4, CSS and XML. He went on to serve as Openwave's chief technology officer in Redwood City, Cal., where he led development of the first mobile-device Web browsers.
His focus changed, however, after an impromptu lunch with world-renowned physicist Freeman Dyson.
"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," Readon said.
His ongoing interest in the intersection of computational theory, language and biology led him back to Columbia in 2010 where he conducts research with the neuroscientist Thomas Jessell.
The School of General Studies of Columbia University is a liberal arts college in the United States created specifically for students with nontraditional backgrounds seeking a rigorous, traditional, Ivy League undergraduate degree full- or part-time. GS students take the same courses, with the same faculty, and earn the same degree as all other Columbia undergraduates.