Web pioneers win inaugural $1.5M engineering prize

Lord Browne, left, chair of QEPrize Foundation, announces the winners of the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, French Software Engineer Louis Pouzin, right, and US Internet Pioneer Robert Kahn, center, at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London on Monday, March 18, 2013. Five pioneering engineers, US Robert Kahn, US Vinton Cerf, French Louis Pouzin, British Tim Berners-Lee and US Marc Andreessen, share this first prize. SANG TAN/AP IMAGES FOR QEPRIZE)

LONDON—Five engineers who helped create the Internet were on Monday awarded a $1.5 million prize which British organizers hope will come to be seen as equivalent to a Nobel prize for engineering.

Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf and Marc Andreessen of the United States will share the first ever £1 million (1.2 million euro) Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering with Louis Pouzin of France and Tim Berners-Lee of Britain.

“The emergence of the Internet and the web involved many teams of people all over the world,” said Alec Broers, chair of the judging panel.

“However, these five visionary engineers, never before honored together as a group, led the key developments that shaped the Internet and web as a coherent system and brought them into public use.”

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who gives her name to the prize, will present the award to the winners in a formal ceremony in London in June.

Organizers said Kahn, Cerf and Pouzin had made “seminal” contributions to the design and protocols that make up the fundamental architecture of the Internet.

Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, the information-sharing system built on top of the Internet which allows us to use it in the way we do today.

Andreessen, meanwhile, created the first widely used web browser, Mosaic.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates was among those who pushed for the inaugural prize to be granted to Internet pioneers.

“It would be difficult to point to any significant human endeavor that has not been touched profoundly through the invention and deployment of the Internet,” he said.

“We are living today in only the beginning of the transformations that will come through this enabling technology.”

Around a third of the world’s population use the Internet today, according to UN figures.

The Queen Elizabeth Prize was created last year in a bid to boost the industry’s profile and give greater recognition to the revolutionary impact it has on people’s lives.

“Engineers are often the unsung heroes whose innovations have made phenomenal contributions to society,” said the award’s director Anji Hunter.

“We need more skilled engineers to solve the world’s most pressing problems, which require not only excellent education and inspirational role models, but more attention focused on highlighting the wonders of modern engineering, wherever they may be,” she added.

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  • Mux

    “We need more skilled engineers to solve the world’s most pressing
    problems, which require not only excellent education and inspirational
    role models, but more attention focused on highlighting the wonders of
    modern engineering, wherever they may be,” she added.

    Read that Sheldon?

  • riza888

    “This is like waking up from a really exciting dream and discovering the geeks are winning!” – Vinton Cerf

    Excellent quote. Let’s hope so!

  • WeAry_Bat

    In the Internet boom of the Philippines, the browser of choice was Netscape, descendant of Mosaic. The multimedia possibilities of the Internet was tremendous, every company on the US wanted in on the action. Although the joke was, and there is some truth to it, the WWW popularity was driven by pron.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/Q2EFFJUNBLYFKXTUS6CZEA6GVA Waldy

    bill gates should give them at least100 million dollars each, without themm there would be no WINDOWS at all

    • foreignerph

      Your timeline is wrong. Mosaic/Netscape became only available to the large public around 1995 when Windows was already at its 4-th version (Windows 95).



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