A £1m prize has been handed to five engineers who developed the internet in recognition of their contribution to society.Sir Tim Berners Lee, the British inventor of the world wide web, is among the winners of the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.
The prize has been created to raise the profile of engineering in British society, which the organisers feel is under-represented considering the country's legacy of technological innovation.
The other four winners; Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf, Louis Pouzin and Marc Andreessen will
all also take home a £200,000 share.
All will come to London in June to meet the Queen when they will be presented with the trophy - which itself has been designed by a young budding engineer.
While the scientific community has known about Sir Tim's achievement for some time, it was his appearance at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics that brought his role in the internet to a wider audience.
Sir Tim said: "I am honoured to receive this accolade and humbled to share it with them.
"I want the web to inspire and empower new generations of engineers - boys and, especially, girls - who will build, in turn, their own platforms, to improve our global society.
"I hope the message behind this award, along with the work we are doing with the World Wide Web Foundation and W3C, will assist in achieving the vision of a web that is open, accessible and of value to all."
The prize was awarded by a new charitable body called The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation which is made up of a number of senior scientific figures.
The award is funded by many of the biggest companies in Britain and the world, some of which would stand to benefit from engineering innovation.
They include BAE Systems, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Steel, Sony and National Grid.
Lord Browne, former head of BP and chairman of the judges, said: "Engineering underpins economies, it gives commercial application to scientific discoveries, and it affects every aspect of our daily lives.
"By laying the foundations for the internet and the world wide web, the five winners have done an extraordinary service for humanity."
Professor Brian Cox, another judge, added: "The internet and the world wide web are prime examples of how engineering enables discovery, generates wealth and changes the world.
"We could not have imagined, even 20 years ago, having access to so much information. That is what I call a global benefit to humankind."
While Sir Tim designed the world wide web - a system of interlinked 'hypertext' documents accessible by the internet - allowing people to use the internet as they do today, the other four played important parts.
Mr Kahn and Mr Cerf invented the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP) which together make up the fundamental architecture at the heart of the internet.
Louis Pouzin and colleagues developed CYCLADES, the first network to make the host computers responsible for the reliable delivery of data, rather than the network itself.
Mr Andreessen and colleagues set about creating a user-friendly browser with integrated graphics that would work on a wide range of computers.
The resulting code was the Mosaic web browser, which predated Google and others.