By Erik Kirschbaum
Britain's Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web and then
gave it away, will receive Germany's national Quadriga award on the
country's 15th annual Unification Day on October 3, organizers said on
Also receiving a Quadriga award for courage and vision will be six
Northern Irish women who challenged the Irish Republican Army over the
murder of a Catholic man, Robert McCartney, in Belfast in January.
McCartney's five sisters and fiance will receive the award for their
tireless campaign against IRA violence, organizers said. Last month,
the IRA pledged to end its armed campaign against British rule in
Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in 1990 while at the European
Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva to let his fellow scientists
work together even when in other parts of the world.
But instead of patenting it and reaping a fortune, he chose to put it
onto the Internet a year later, opening access to everyone. Quadriga
organizers hailed Berners-Lee as the most important scientist of the
20th century after Albert Einstein.
"Berners-Lee elected not to patent the World Wide Web for commercial
reasons or his own personal profit but gave it away for all of us,"
said Klaus Riebschlaeger, chairman of the organising committee. "Free
and available to all humanity, it became the network for knowledge
linking the world."
The Web made modern-day surfing possible and transformed the Internet
from a domain for scientists and academics into the fastest growing
mass medium of all time.
Before the Web was developed, electronic files stored on the Internet
were exceedingly difficult to find and pages could only be located
using an address -- often a vast string of numbers.
The Quadriga national awards for courage, vision and responsibility
were inspired by ex U.S. President Bill Clinton on a visit to Berlin
in 2002. They are presented each year in four categories: political,
economic, social and cultural.
Other winners of the 25,000 euro prize this year include former German
Chancellor Helmut Kohl for his achievements in reuniting Germany in
1990; and the Aga Khan, billionaire spiritual leader of the world's 15
million Ismaili Muslims, for his charitable institution the Aga Khan
Previous winners include Afghan President Hamid Karzai (2004) and
British architect Norman Foster (2003).
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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