Ian Ritchie (entrepreneur)

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Ian Cleland Ritchie, CBE FREng FRSE FBCS CEng is a Scottish businessman specialising in the Information Technology sector.

In 1984, Ritchie founded the software company, Office Workstations Limited (OWL) in Edinburgh, after leaving ICL when they closed their Scottish Development Centre at Dalkeith Palace the previous year.

In late 1990, Ritchie met Tim Berners-Lee at a computer fair in Paris. It was there that Berners-Lee told him about a system he and his team at CERN were developing, which with the aid of computer terminals, would enable its staff to view and edit the vast amounts of information the facility was generating and storing in hypertext documents. He said the system could be scaled-up for use worldwide, and would enable users of computers connected to the Internet to access, edit and share documents in the same way too - he called this new system the World Wide Web. Thinking this sounded a bit pretentious, not to mention a mouthful to pronounce, Ritchie convinced himself it would not come to much and duly rejected the idea as a viable business proposition.[1] From that day on HTML and HTTP remained free and non-proprietary. Over the next few years, the number of web sites online grew from 1 [2] in 1991, to over 1 billion by 2014. From its humble beginnings, the web grew into the enormous global communications and commercial system it is today.

From 1997 onwards, Ritchie became involved in venture capital and was the founding chairman of several Scottish IT companies, including Voxar, VIS Entertainment, Orbital Software Group, and Digital Bridges. He has also been on the board of Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council, and Channel Four Television Corporation.

He was a founding director and chairman of the Scottish Software Federation from 1988 to 1990, and served as President of the British Computer Society from 1998 to 1999.

In the New Year Honours 2003, Ritchie was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to enterprise and education.[3] Ritchie also holds Honorary Doctorates from four Scottish universities.

As of 2008, Ritchie is Chairman of Computer Application Services, Blipfoto Limited, Scapa Technologies and Caspian Learning and a Director of iomart Group plc. Outside of the business world, he is an Honorary Professor of Heriot-Watt University,[4] a board member of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, a trustee of the National Museums of Scotland, a member of the board of Our Dynamic Earth, and a trustee of the Bletchley Park Trust.

Between 2015 and 2016 he was Vice-President for Business of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, having become a Fellow in 2002[5].


  1. ^ TED Talk given by Ian Ritchie
  2. ^ The World's first website
  3. ^ "No. 56797". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 31 December 2002. p. 8.
  4. ^ webperson@hw.ac.uk. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Mr Ian Cleland Ritchie CBE FREng FRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 18 December 2017.

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