Ralph Sommerer obtained his diploma in Computer Science from the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland, in 1989. He then joined the Computer Systems Institute at ETH, where he worked as a research and teaching assistant in the fields of software component architecture and online documents. He concluded his project with a Ph.D. in 1996.
After leading a project group in a software company and developing software tools for embedded systems, he joined Microsoft Research in Cambridge in January 1998. Together with Chuck Thacker, he built Microsoft's first experimental Electronic Book (eBook) prototype, a conceptual study that eventually led to Microsoft's eBook Reader.
Later he worked on aspects of "Smart Reading" and the "Mobile Web", such as layout, Web browsing and search on small devices. He is also interested in Web Services and Web Client Application Frameworks, and became an affiliate member of Microsoft Live Labs.
At the end of 2006 he left Microsoft Research to pursue his own Web technology research. He is currently founding an incubation and concept development lab.