Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the original protocols for the World Wide Web, has been named Greatest Briton of 2004.
He received the award, and a £25,000 cheque, in a ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice last night after being nominated in an internet poll sponsored by Morgan Stanley.
Berners-Lee beat 21 other candidates for the award, including Roger Penrose, a leader in the field of black hole physics, and primatologist Jane Goodall.
The judging panel, which included historian David Starkey and Eden Project creator Tim Smith, awarded the prize to Berners-Lee based on adaptability, modesty, strength, determination and sense of humour.
Berners-Lee did not patent his invention, and has consistently resisted any attempts to commercially control the internet.
He was knighted for "services to the global development of the internet" in July last year and received a €1m prize in April as the first winner of the Millennium Technology Prize by the Finnish Technology Award Foundation.
Six other Britons were honoured for their contributions in specific fields. Runner Kelly Holmes won the prize for sport, author Philip Pullman for the arts and Lord Norman Foster for creative business.
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