Internet Pioneers win Engineering Prize

The innovators of the internet will be the first recipients of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf, Louis Pouzin and Marc Andreessen will share the £1m award.

The have been awarded the prize for ground breaking work which led to the internet and World Wide Web. The panel considering the award’s recipients said all had contributed to the revolution in communications that has taken place over the last few decades.

The announcement was made at the Royal Academy of Engineering in central London.

It is endowed by industry and administered by an independent trust chaired by Lord Browne, a former chief executive of BP.

Sir Tim, who live tweeted whilst featuring in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, may be the best known of the winners, certainly here in the UK. He helped develop the World Wide Web in the 1980s and simplified the way information can be shared on the net.

Other winners Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf provided the engineering knowledge that actually made the internet work, by creating TCP and IP protocols which defines how data travels around the internet.

Louis Pouzin helped work out how data should be labelled so that it reached the right destination.

Marc Andreessen is the man who developed Mosaic, the first popular browser for the web.

“The prize recognises what has been a roller-coaster ride of wonderful international collaboration,” said Sir Tim.

The men were commended for making their work freely available and not restricted; the WWW could not have taken off in the same way without this approach.

Lord Browne said the group had “done an extraordinary service for humanity”.

“I am delighted that the prize can honour the endeavours of these engineers, and make the story of their world-changing innovation known to the public,” he added.

The Queen herself will present the winners with a trophy at Buckingham Palace in June.

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