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Fifteen years on, Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee has finally gotten the sort of reward many tech pioneers of the ’90s chased after–a financial one. Tuesday he will become the first recipient of the world’s largest technology prize, the $1.2 million Millennium Technology Prize from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation, reports the International Herald Tribune.

Rather than patenting his idea for the World Wide Web, Berners-Lee and colleague Robert Cailliau, working at CERN (the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva), insisted on a license-free technology. If they hadn’t, Berners-Lee says, the Web wouldn’t be the interoperable linkup that it is. “There would have been a CERN Web, a Microsoft one, there would have been a Digital one, Apple’s HyperCard would have started reaching out Internet roots,” he said. “And all of these things would have been incompatible.”

Three cheers for the spirit of creativity that Berners-Lee has fostered and still believes in!

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