2005 Common Wealth Award
Computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, 49, revolutionized modern communication with his landmark invention of the World Wide Web. As director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he continues to guide the Web’s ongoing development. Berners-Lee envisioned a global information space where documents stored on computers everywhere could be interconnected and available to everyone. He developed a global hypertext system to retrieve and access information using the power of the Internet. He wrote the underlying technical codes—URLs, HTTP and HTML—and also created the first Web server software and the original browser program. Dubbing his new creation the World Wide Web, Berners-Lee posted the Web software on the Internet in 1991, creating the first Web site and making it freely available to the world. He has never profited from his invention. Berners-Lee is now spearheading work on the “Semantic Web,” a universal medium that will make information understandable by machines as well as humans.