Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf, Louis Pouzin and Marc Andreessen are to share the £1 million ($1.5 million) cash element of the first ever Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, which has been likened to the Nobel prize.
The award winners were announced by ex-BP executive Lord Browne of Madingley in the presence of Anne, Princess Royal, at the Royal Academy of Engineering in central London Monday.
All five have been invited to come to London in June for the formal presentation of the prize by Her Majesty The Queen.
[ Want to learn about other technology pioneers? Check out InformationWeek's new series: 20 People Who Changed Tech. ]
The Queen Elizabeth Prize is a new global engineering award created by the U.K. government to reward and celebrate those deemed "responsible for a ground-breaking innovation in engineering that has been of global benefit to humanity."
Judges praised the five for their work on the Web, reaching back to the 1970s, that they say "revolutionized the way we communicate and enabled the development of whole new industries."
"The emergence of the Internet and the Web involved many teams of people from all over the world," noted judging panel chair Lord Broers.
"However, these five visionary engineers, never before honored together as a group, led the key developments that shaped the Internet and the Web as a coherent system and brought them into use."
The prize organizers said a third of the world's population now use the Internet and it is estimated to carry around 330 petabytes of data per year, enough to transfer every character ever written in every book ever published 20 times over.
The prize commended Kahn, Cerf and Pouzin for their contributions to the protocols that make up the fundamental architecture of the Internet, as in TCP/IP and data labeling respectively; Andreessen for writing the first browser, Mosaic; while Berners-Lee got a nod for having created the World Wide Web while a scientist at CERN.
Speaking to the BBC Monday, Berners-Lee said, "The prize recognizes what has been a roller-coaster ride of wonderful international collaboration. Bob and Vint's work on building the Internet was re-enforced by Louis' work on datagrams, and that enabled me to invent the Web, [while] Marc's determined and perceptive work built on these platforms a product which became widely deployed across nations and computing platforms. I am honored to receive this accolade and humbled to share it with them."
In the wake of a zero-day vulnerability being exploited by multiple active attacks, IT teams wait for Oracle to respond. Again. Here's how to keep your systems safe. Get our Insecurity With Java report today. (Free registration required.)