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Sunday, June 13, 2004

The father of 'www' finally gets his due via IHT

Tim berners lee, is awarded the world's largest technology prize, the Millennium Technology Prize from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation. The E1 million, or $1.2 million, prize for outstanding technological achievements that raised the quality of life is supported by the Finnish government and private contributors.If Tim Berners-Lee had decided to patent his idea in 1989, the Internet would be a different place.Instead, the World Wide Web became free to anyone who could make use of it. Many of those who did became rich: Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com), Jerry Yang (Yahoo), Pierre Omidyar (eBay) and Marc Andreeson (Netscape).But not Berners-Lee, 49, a British scientist working at a Geneva research lab at the time.The Internet has many fathers: Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn, who came up with a system to allow different computer networks to interconnect and communicate; Ray Tomlinson, the creator of e-mail; Ted Nelson, who coined the term hypertext; and scores of others.But only one who conceived of the World Wide Web (originally, Berners-Lee called it a "mesh" before changing it to a "web"). Before him, there were no browsers, no hypertext markup language, no "www" in any Internet address, no URLs, or uniform resource locators.Because he and his colleague, Robert Cailliau, a Belgian, insisted on a license-free technology, today a Gateway computer with a Linux operating system and a browser made by Netscape can see the same Web page as any other personal computer, system software or Internet browser.If his then-employer, CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, had sought royalties, Berners-Lee believes the world would have 16 different "webs" on the Internet today.

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