Tim Berners-Lee has been named the second most important scientist of the 20th century by the organisers of Germany's Quadriga award, in recognition of the invention of the web. The organisers said only Einstein was more important.
Sir Tim, who was knighted in 2003 in recognition of his achievements, invented the web while he was working at CERN. He wanted to help the particle physicists collaborate on research even when they weren't all working in the same geographical area.
Arguably even more importantly, he made the protocols freely available to the world shortly after his invention, and his solution became the world wide web.
"Berners-Lee elected not to patent the World Wide Web for commercial reasons or his own personal profit but gave it away for all of us," Klaus Riebschlaeger, chairman of the organising committee told Reuters. "Free and available to all humanity, it became the network for knowledge linking the world."
The Quadriga awards were instituted in 2002, and recognise courage, vision and responsibility in four categories: political, economic, social and cultural. Reuters reports that they were inspired by Bill Clinton. ®