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Sir Tim Berners-Lee, WWW Inventor, Named "Greatest Briton 2004"

"It's Great Fun to be British," TBL Says As He Accepts $47,000 Award

On Thursday, in a ceremony held in the UK's Royal Courts of Justice in London, England, the creator of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, received a $47,000 award and the title - the latest in a line of recent awards and plaudits including his knighthood from HM The Queen - of "Greatest Briton 2004."

A panel of judges chose Sir Tim to win ahead of 21 other British public figures short-listed from fields like arts, science and innovation, business, creative industries and sports.

The judges assessed achievements in 2004 and also looked at to what extent the twenty-two Britons embodied the key characteristics of Britishness, including "modesty, determination and a sense of humor."

"I am very proud to be British," said Berners-Lee as he received the award, along with the $47,000. "It is great fun to be British and this award is just an amazing honor," he added. 

In June 2004 Berners-Lee was selected unanimously to receive the first ever Millennium Technology Prize out of a field of 78 innovators from 22 countries for "an innovation that directly promotes people's quality of life, is based on humane values and encourages sustainable economic development."

He was awarded that time $1.2 million from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation.

In his book Weaving the Web, Berners-Lee tried to answer questions that had been thrown at him again and again ever since  Questions such as "What were you thinking when you invented the WWW?" through "So what do you think of it now?" to "Where is this all going to take us?"

He didn't anticipate, even in 1999 when the book was published, that technologies like HTML, HTTP, and XML would take him just four years later to a knighthood, then to last year's $1.2 million award, already known informally as the "Finnish Nobel Prize," and now to the extraordinary title of "Greatest Briton 2004."

"The original idea of the Web," Berners-Lee has always said, "was that it should be a collaborative space where you can communicate through sharing information. The idea was that by writing something together, and as people worked on it, they could iron out misunderstanding."

In 1994, he founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) a not-for-profit forum that aims to lead the Web to its full potential. Now Boston-based, heading up the W3C, he became Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 2004 when knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

"All sorts of things, too long for me to list here, are still out there waiting to be done." Berners-Lee said in his acceptance speech for the Millennium Technology Prize. "There are so many new things to make, limited only by our imagination. And I think it's important for anybody who's going through school or college wondering what to do, to remember that now."  

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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