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Internet daddies win Blighty's 'Nobel for engineering'

Digital pioneers to share £1m prize pot

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The men who helped give birth to the internet have been awarded the first Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering at Buckingham Palace.

Brit pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee, along with US computer scientists Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf and Frenchman Louis Pouzin will share the £1m spoils that come with the prize.

A fifth prize winner, US software engineer Marc Andreessen, couldn't make it over to li'l old Blighty and will be handed his prize by Britain's ambassador in the US.

The prize, awarded for the first time this year, will reward their part in starting a "communications revolution which has changed the world".

Lord Broers, judging panel chair, said: "Engineering is, by its very nature, a collaborative activity and the emergence of the internet and the web involved many teams of people all over the world.

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

Lord Browne of Madingley, chairman of the prize trustees, said that young people should remember that engineering pays the big bucks and not enough kids are getting involved.

He said: "The first ever winners of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering are being recognised at the highest level for their world-changing achievements, and they should be held up as role models for what young people can achieve by being engineers.

Leaders of three of the UK's four major political parties were at the bash to see the four Internet pioneers receive their prize.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "It makes me proud that the UK is host to this international prize. Engineering is about growth and progress for both the economy and society - bringing vast improvements in people's lives.

"The internet and the web are prime examples of this - engineering innovations that have enabled new industries, a huge number of jobs and enabled the world and its people to access education and knowledge as never before."

Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, while Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf pioneered the Transmission Control Protocol and the Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Louis Pouzin designed the early packets communication network CYCLADES and Marc Andreessen is the co-author of Mosaic, the first web browser.

The prize is sponsored by BAE Systems, BG Group, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, Jaguar Land Rover, National Grid, Shell, Siemens, Sony, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel and Toshiba.

Earlier this year the RAE strongly objected to the widespread belief that sponsorship from BAE Systems amounts to accepting blood money. ®

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