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Created: April 23, 2004.
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W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee Awarded Millennium Technology Prize.

An announcement from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation describes the selection of Tim Berners-Lee by unanimous vote of the International Award Selection Committee as recipient of the first Millennium Technology Prize.

A graduate of Oxford University, England, Tim Berners-Lee "holds the 3Com Founders chair at the Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He directs the World Wide Web Consortium, an open forum of companies and organizations with the mission to lead the Web to its full potential."

The Finnish Millennium Technology Prize is awarded every other year for innovation based on scientific research in any of four disciplines: Health Care and Life Sciences, Communications and Information, New Materials and Processes, and Energy and the Environment. It is a technology award granted "for outstanding technological achievements that directly promote people's quality of life, are based on humane values, and encourage sustainable economic development."

Berners-Lee was selected for the Millennium Technology Prize 2004 from a group of 78 nominees representing twenty-two countries and four continents. The Award Ceremony will be held on June 15, 2004 at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Finland. Ms Tarja Halonen, President of the Republic of Finland and Patron of the Millennium Technology Prize, has been invited to present the Prize, which carries a value of one million euros.

About The Millennium Technology Prize and Finnish Technology Award Foundation

The Finnish Millennium Technology Prize is the world's biggest technology award, given "for outstanding technological achievements that directly promote people's quality of life, are based on humane values, and encourage sustainable economic development.

The Prize is intended to stimulate further achievements by the Award Winner(s) and other visionaries. For this reason it is normally awarded for specific innovations made during the preceding ten years.

The Prize will not be awarded for cumulative accomplishments over a lifetime career, or for achievements already rewarded in international forums. The Prize is awarded either to an individual or to a research team. It may be shared by a maximum of three individuals who were not members of the same team, if the Award Selection Committee judges that they have each made a critical scientific or technological contribution of essentially equal merit to the success of the innovation...

Rationale for the Millennium Technology Prize was given by Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen, speaker of the Finnish parliament, at the founding ceremony in November 2002: 'The Millennium Prize is needed because Finland today is ranked No. 1 in technology and we benefit so much from world markets in high technology so that we owe this to the world, to science, to those who make a contribution to creating prosperity through high technology, that we establish this Millennium Prize'...

The Finnish Technology Award Foundation is an independent fund established in 2002 by eight Finnish organisations that support technological development and innovation. Its mission is to promote scientific research that aims to enhance the quality of life through new technology. We also seek to encourage networking and international cooperation on this field. This vision enjoys wide support in Finland, including that of the President of the Republic, Tarja Halonen. The Board of the Foundation consists of the representatives of its eight founding members, the Academy of Finland and National Technology Agency of Finland. The funding is provided by the public and private sectors in partnership..." [adapted from the prize description and Award Foundation overview]

Millennium Technology Conference 2004

"The Millennium Technology Conference provides an international forum for interaction between decision makers, leaders of opinion, scientists and specialists working in different disciplines. The aim is to generate new insights and future scenarios based on ground-breaking technological paradigms. Innovations based on scientific research which improve quality of life, support human values and lead to favourable economic development will be the subject of specific attention. The conference also celebrates the world's biggest recongnition for technological innovation, the Millennium Technology Prize, which will be awarded for the first time on 15th June 2004." See the conference program

Tim Berners-Lee Bio

Tim Berners-Lee (W3C)"A graduate of Oxford University, England, Tim now holds the 3Com Founders chair at the Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He directs the World Wide Web Consortium, an open forum of companies and organizations with the mission to lead the Web to its full potential.

With a background of system design in real-time communications and text processing software development, in 1989 he invented the World Wide Web, an internet-based hypermedia initiative for global information sharing. while working at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory. He wrote the first web client (browser-editor) and server in 1990.

Before coming to CERN, Tim worked with Image Computer Systems, of Ferndown, Dorset, England and before that as a principal engineer with Plessey Telecommunications, in Poole, England..." [from the TBL W3C Staff page; photo from LeFebvre Communications via W3C]

From the Press

  • "Free Was the Key, Says Web Founder." In International News (June 16, 2004). Tim Berners-Lee, who received a €1 million ($1.2 million) cash prize for creating the World Wide Web, says he would never have succeeded if he had charged money for his inventions. 'If I had tried to demand fees ... there would be no World Wide Web,' Berners-Lee, 49, said Tuesday at a ceremony for winning the first Millennium Technology Prize. 'There would be lots of small webs.' The prize committee agreed, citing the importance of Berners-Lee's decision never to commercialize or patent his contributions to the Internet technologies he had developed, and recognizing his revolutionary contribution to humanity's ability to communicate. Berners-Lee, who is originally from Britain and was knighted last December, has mostly avoided both the fame and the fortune won by many of his Internet colleagues. Despite his prize, he remained modest about his achievements. 'I was just taking lots of things that already existed and added a little little bit,' said Berners-Lee, who now runs the standard-setting World Wide Web Consortium from an office at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 'Building the Web, I didn't do it all myself,' he said. 'The really exciting thing about it is that it was done by lots and lots of people, connected with this tremendous spirit.' Berners-Lee indeed took concepts that were well known to engineers since the 1960s, but it was he who saw the value of marrying them. Pekka Tarjanne, chairman of the prize committee, said 'no one doubts who the father of the World Wide Web is, except Berners-Lee himself'..."

  • [June 16, 2004] "Tim Berners-Lee Finally Gets His Due." By Victoria Shannon. In ECommerce Times (ETC) (June 16, 2004). "Sir Tim Berners-Lee said upon receiving the first Millennium Technology Prize, 'Building the Web, I didn't do it all myself. The really exciting thing about it is that it was done by lots and lots of people, connected with this tremendous spirit.' 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... Software patenting today, Berners-Lee says, has run amok. In April, Microsoft was awarded a U.S. patent for the use of short, long or double-clicks on the same button of a hand-held computer to launch applications... 'The problem now is someone can write something out of their own creativity, and a lawyer can look over their shoulder later and say, 'Actually, I'm sorry, but lines 35 to 42 we own, even though you wrote it,'' said Berners-Lee, who is director of the World Wide Web Consortium based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 'What's at stake here is the whole spirit in which software has been developed to date,' he said. 'If you can imagine a computer doing it, then you can write a computer program to do it. That spirit has been behind so many wonderful developments. 'And when you connect that to the spirit of the Internet, the spirit of openness and sharing, it's terribly stifling to creativity. It's stifling to the academic side of doing research and thinking up new ideas, it's stifling to the new industry and the new enterprises that come out of that'... Pekka Tarjanne, the former director general of the International Telecommunication Union who led the awards selection committee, said it was 'surprisingly easy' to settle on Berners-Lee as the prize's first recipient, despite the 78 nominations and the eight judges on the committee."

  • "OP-ED: Honouring the Web's Inventor." By Q Isa Daudpota (QID). In [Pakistan] Daily Times (June 17, 2004). "Today we are grateful to its modest inventor, Sir Tim, who chose not to patent his invention, thereby making it a universal tool... The biggest breakthrough [in the past half-century] that has propelled societies is the Internet and the Web. And the real effects of the knowledge-based economy are only now beginning to be felt. In societies such as ours, the move toward absorbing these technologies is gathering pace, and the challenge is to use these new developments for the propagation of humane values that encourage sustainable development. It is these very values that this Finnish technology award is designed to recognise..."

  • "Web Inventor Wins $1.23 Million Award. Berners-Lee First Honoree of Millennium Technology Prize." From Reuters, via MSNBC News (April 15, 2004). "World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee won $1.23 million on Thursday, the largest single amount of money he has made from an invention that has made many others very rich. Berners-Lee, 48, was named the first winner of the world's largest technology award — the Millennium Technology Prize — by the Finnish Technology Award Foundation at a ceremony in the Finnish city of Espoo. When myriad dot-com firms went public in the late 1990s, their founders were instantly turned into millionaires at the height of the Internet investment bubble. Most people would be hard-pressed to name the retiring Internet architect, who bypassed cashing-in on his technology contributions for an academic's salary at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States."

  • "Berners-Lee Wins Inaugural Technology Prize. Inventor of the World Wide Web Awarded $1.2 Million Millennium Technology Prize." By David Legard. In InfoWorld (April 16, 2004). "The foundation describes the award as an international acknowledgement of outstanding technological innovation that directly promotes people's quality of life, is based on humane values, and encourages sustainable economic development. While working at the European particle physics laboratory CERN in 1989, Berners-Lee proposed a global hypertext project, designed to allow people to work together through organizing, linking and browsing pages of content. That hypertext project became known as the World Wide Web. The program, WorldWideWeb, was first made available within CERN in December 1990, and all of Berners-Lee's code was made available on the Internet in the summer of 1991, according to information from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which Berners-Lee founded in 1994..."

  • "Father of the Web Wins Millennium Award." By Jim Wagner. In (April 16, 2004). "Almost 15 years after his work began on the first specifications for HTTP, HTML, and URIs, Sir Tim Berners-Lee accepted the latest award thanking him for creating the World Wide Web (WWW). The Finnish organization award also comes with a $1 million prize, funded by the private and public sectors of the country. Pekka Tarjanne, chairman of the award committee that unanimously approved the award and former International Telecommunications Union (ITU) secretary general, said in a statement Berners-Lee's accomplishments have significantly enhanced the ability for people around the world to obtain 'information central to their lives.' 'The Web is encouraging new types of social networks, supporting transparency and democracy, and opening up novel avenues for information management and business development,' he stated. Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) he founded in 1994 to standardize Web development, was not available for comment on the award at press time. Last year, the inventor was named a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his efforts to open up the Internet..."

  • "Tim Berners-Lee Wins Finnish 'Nobel' Prize." By Kirk L. Kroeker. From TechNewsWorld (April 15, 2004). "'Less than 15 years after he first thought of it, the Web has connected millions of people all over the world,' says Professor Bill O'Riordan, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering who nominated Berners-Lee for the prize. 'We can now work together, trade and manage information in real-time, and it has opened up a totally new area of commerce through which scores of entrepreneurs have made (and lost) millions literally overnight,' said O'Riordan. 'Big science is now possible cheaply through instant global collaboration'..."

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