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Web's Inventor Is Knighted

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Dec 31, 2003 12:00 AM PST    Text size: 
UNITED KINGDOM – The man who invented the core functionality of the Internet was awarded knighthood this week by Queen Elizabeth II. The ceremony will take place at Buckingham Palace by the beginning of the New Year.

The rank of Knight Commander is the second most senior rank of the Order of the British Empire, one of the Orders of Chivalry awarded by the Queen.

Tim Berners-Lee, an English physicist and a citizen of the UK who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, was chosen for the honor because of his key role in shaping the Internet into what it is today.

According to reports, Berners-Lee developed a system for organizing, linking, and browsing web pages more than ten years ago that gave way to the popularization of web surfing and the increased accessibility of web pages.

Berners-Lee is credited with creating the Internet in the late 1980s at Cern in Geneva where he first developed a hypertext program that enabled scientists to share research findings across a computer network that later became known as the World Wide Web.

Berners-Lee, soon-to-be named Sir Tim, was quoted as saying that he never expected his invention would lead to such an accolade. He also added that receiving knighthood proves what can happen to "ordinary people" who work on things that "happen to work out."

Berners-Lee is also the founder of the World Wide Web Consortium, which is housed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and develops common protocols for the Internet's interoperability.

"This is an honor which applies to the whole web development community and to the inventors and developers of the Internet, whose work made the web possible," Berners-Lee said in a statement. "I accept this as an endorsement of the spirit of the web; of building it in a decentralized way; of making best efforts to keep it open and fair; and of ensuring its fundamental technologies are available to all for broad use and innovation, and without having to pay licensing fees."

Berners-Lee has been nicknamed the "Father of the Web" and was notified of his pending knighthood earlier this week by telephone, not email, the BBC reported.

Berners-Lee was born in London in 1955 and attended Wandsworth's Emanuel School and Queen's College, Oxford. The young inventor was once banned from using the computer at Queen's College after being accused of hacking into the university's network.

Berners-Lee's first foray into technological advancement was building a computer based on the frame of an old television with an M6800 processor and a soldering iron, the BBC reports.

Berners-Lee became the first holder of the 3Com Founders chair in 1999, and Time Magazine named him one of the top 20 thinkers of the 20th Century, according to the BBC.

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