Most people who search on Google, share on Facebook, and shop on Amazon have never heard of Sir Tim Berners-Lee. But they might not be doing any of those things had he not invented the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee, 61, is this year's recipient of the AM Turing Award, computing's version of the Nobel Prize. The award, announced Tuesday by the Association for Computing Machinery, marks another pinnacle for the British native, who has already been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and named as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century by Time magazine. "It's a crowning achievement," Berners-Lee said in an interview with the AP. "But I think the award is for the Web as a project, and the massive international collaborative spirit of all that have joined me to help."
The honor comes with a $1 million prize funded by Google, one of many companies that made a fortune as a result of Berners-Lee's efforts to make the internet more accessible. He managed that largely by figuring out a simple way to post documents, pictures, and video online. Starting in 1989, Berners-Lee began working on ways digital objects could be identified and retrieved through browser software capable of rendering graphics and other images. In August 1991, he launched the world's first website, http://info.cern.ch. In an even more significant move, Berners-Lee decided against patenting his technology and instead offered it as royalty-free software. That allowed other programmers to build upon the foundation he'd laid. Click for his full interview with the AP. (Read more Tim Berners-Lee stories.)