The Great Briton who gave away the web

The Great Briton who gave away the web

The man who invented - and then gave away - the World Wide Web was picked yesterday as the greatest Briton of 2004.

Judges chose Tim Berners-Lee from hundreds of candidates nominated by the public.

"He chose not to commercially exploit his invention. He gave it away almost wilfully," said historian and panel member David Starkey. "If he fully exploited it he would make Bill Gates look like a pauper."

Berners-Lee invented the Web in 1990 at the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva to let his colleagues work together even when abroad. He put his invention on the Internet the following year and later received a knighthood for services to New Media.

Mountaineer and pannellist David Hemplemann-Adams said a Great Briton needed a combination of diffidence, determination, a sharp sense of humour and adaptability.

Berners-Lee, 49, was chosen in the science category, netting a £3,000 prize and went on to become the overall winner, taking home an extra £25,000.

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