The inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim-Berners-Lee wins the ‘Nobel Prize’ of Computing. Berners-Lee, 61, is this year’s recipient of the A.M. Turing Award, computing’s version of the Nobel Prize.
The award, announced by the Association for Computing Machinery, marks another pinnacle for Berners-Lee, who has already been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and named as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century by Time magazine.
“It’s a crowning achievement,” Berners-Lee said in an interview, “But I think the award is for the Web as a project, and the massive international collaborative spirit of all that have joined me to help.”
This honor comes with a $1 million prize funded by Google, one of many companies that made a fortune as a result of Berners-Lee’s efforts to make the internet more accessible. Berners-Lee managed that largely by figuring out a simple way to post documents, pictures and video – everything, really, beyond plain text – online.
It was in 1989 that Berners-Lee began working on ways digital object could be identified and retrieved through browser software capable of rendering graphics and other images.
Instead of coming up with the web’s technical specifications, Berners-Lee “offered a coherent vision of how each of these elements would work together as part of an integrated whole,” said Vicki Hanson, president of the Association for Computing Machinery.
In an even more significant move, Berners-Lee decided against patenting his technology and instead offered it as royalty-free software. That allowed other programmers to build upon the foundation he’d laid, spawning more than a billion websites today that have helped lure more than 3 billion people online.