Tim O'Reilly

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This article is about the founder of O'Reilly Media. For the musician, see Tim O'Reilly (musician).
Tim O'Reilly
Tim O'Reilly at the PayPal X Innovate in 2009.
Tim O'Reilly at the PayPal X Innovate in 2009.
Born (1954-06-06) June 6, 1954 (age 60)
Cork, Ireland
Alma mater Harvard College
Occupation Founder and CEO, O'Reilly Media

Tim O'Reilly (born June 6, 1954) is the founder of O'Reilly Media (formerly O'Reilly & Associates) and a supporter of the free software and open source movements.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Born in County Cork, Ireland, O'Reilly moved to San Francisco, California with his family six weeks after he was born.[citation needed] He has two brothers and three sisters.[2]

O'Reilly was initially interested in literature upon entering college. He graduated from Harvard College in 1975 with a B.A. cum laude in Classics, and married his wife, Christina, an elementary school teacher.[2] They moved to the Boston area, and in 1977, he began publishing computer user manuals. He defines his company not as a book or online publisher, nor as a conference producer (though the company does all three), but as a technology transfer company, "changing the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators." [3]

O'Reilly serves on the board of directors of three companies, Safari Books Online, Maker Media, and PeerJ. He served on the board of Macromedia until its 2005 merger with Adobe Systems, and on the board of MySQL AB until its sale to Sun Microsystems. He also serves on the board of directors for the public-service organization Code for America. In February 2012, he joined the UC Berkeley School of Information Advisory Board.[4]

O'Reilly was also a friend of science fiction writer Frank Herbert, and published a critical study of Herbert's work, Frank Herbert in 1981. O'Reilly also edited a collection of Herbert's essays and interviews, The Maker of Dune: Insights of a Science Fiction Master.[5]

Thoughts and activism[edit]

Algorithms instead of laws[edit]

O'Reilly is credited for coining the term Algorithmic Regulation, the idea that laws can be replaced by algorithms.

Software patents[edit]

In 1996, O'Reilly fought against a 10-Connection Limit on TCP/IP NT Workstations, writing a letter to the United States Department of Justice, Bill Gates, and CNN, concerned that the Internet is still in its infancy, and that limitations could cripple the technology before it ever has a chance to reach its full potential.[6]

In 2001, O'Reilly was involved in a dispute with Amazon.com,[7] against Amazon's one-click patent and, specifically, Amazon's assertion of that patent against rival Barnes & Noble. The protest ended with O'Reilly and Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos visiting Washington D.C. to lobby for patent reform.

Open source software[edit]

O'Reilly compartmentalizes open software into three long-term trends: 1) The commoditization of software, 2) Network-enabled collaboration, 3) Software customization; what he terms the "three Cs".[1] O'Reilly concedes that software commoditization has been driven by standards, but that software itself is no longer the primary focus of value in the computer industry. O'Reilly sees the role of open source as being inseparable from the development of the Internet, pointing to the widely used TCP/IP protocol, sendmail, Apache, Perl, GNU/Linux and other open source platforms. In 2007 O'Reilly was presented with the White Camel award in recognition of his support for the Perl software community. In his article "Open Source Paradigm Shift",[1] O'Reilly describes his concern about the current trends leading towards new sources of lock-in that we do not understand.[8]

Internet Operating System[edit]

O'Reilly envisions the Internet Operating System[9] as consisting of various sub systems, such as media, payment, speech recognition, location, and identity. He uses the analogy of the biome of the human body, having more bacterial than human cells, but depending upon millions of other organisms, each pursuing their own interest, but nevertheless weaving a co-operative web. O'Reilly praises Facebook for their willingness to open up their platform with concepts like the Facebook Platform Open Graph Protocol.[10]

Global brain[edit]

O'Reilly believes that the Internet will develop into a global brain, an intelligent network of people and machines that will function as a nervous system for the planet Earth.[11] This phenomenon will occur because humans will use technologies such as social media or the Internet of things more frequently and efficiently. O'Reilly has recently presented this topic in a number of lectures.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c O'Reilly, Tim. "Open Source Paradigm Shift". tim.oreilly.com. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Levy, Steven (October 2005). "The Trend Spotter". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  3. ^ O'Reilly, Tim. "About O'Reilly". oreilly.com. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Tim O'Reilly joins I School Advisory Board". ischool.berkeley.edu. Retrieved February 16, 2012. 
  5. ^ Yoke, Carl (1988). Robert A. Collins, ed. Science fiction & fantasy book review annual. Westport: Meckler. pp. 409–410. ISBN 0887362494. 
  6. ^ The 1996 Controversy about the 10-Connection Limit on TCP/IP in NT Workstation at the Wayback Machine (archived November 10, 2001)
  7. ^ O'Reilly, Tim (June 2000). "Internet Land Grab". oreillynet.com. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Tim O'Reilly (May 6, 2010). Web 2.0 Expo SF 2010: Tim O'Reilly, "State of the Internet Operating System" (SWF/FLV(Flash)/h.264) (Videotaped Conference). San Francisco: OReillyMedia. Event occurs at 7:00. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  9. ^ O'Reilly, Tim. "The State of the Internet Operating System". radar.oreilly.com. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  10. ^ Tim O'Reilly (May 6, 2010). Web 2.0 Expo SF 2010: Tim O'Reilly, "State of the Internet Operating System" (SWF/FLV(Flash)/h.264) (Videotaped Conference). San Francisco: OReillyMedia. Event occurs at 12:20. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  11. ^ Tim O'Reilly: Towards a Global Brain (talk in 'One Great Idea' video series, March 2012).

External links[edit]