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Internet pioneers to collect first Queen Elizabeth Prizes

The queen of England will award the trophies Wednesday for a new million-pound prize to encourage engineering to Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Kahn, Vint Cerf, Marc Andreessen, and Louis Pouzin.

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Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering logo

Sweden has the Nobel Prize, Japan the Kyoto Prize, and the United States the Pulitzers. Now the royalty of the United Kingdom has its own contribution, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, and those who made the Internet possible are sharing the award for 1 million pounds.

The queen will present trophies to Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Kahn, Marc Andreessen, Vint Cerf, and Louis Pouzin on Wednesday, the foundation behind the prize said.

Kahn, Pouzin, and Cerf made contributions to the packet-switching design of the Internet, in which information is broken into small chunks of data that individually are routed across a hodgepodge of interconnected computers. Cerf created the World Wide Web's protocols, and Andreessen was instrumental in writing the Mosaic browser that made the Web vastly more accessible.

Vint Cerf, one of the creators of the Internet
Vint Cerf, one of the creators of the Internet James Martin

The trophies are being issued the same day that the Royal Academy of Engineering is publishing a study called "Skills for the Nation" that shows demand for engineers across the U.K. economy outstrips supply.

Funding the prize are several donor companies, many eager for more engineers, including BAE Systems, BG Group, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, Jaguar Land Rover, National Grid, Shell, Siemens UK, Sony, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel, and Toshiba.

This diagram of a packet-switching network appears in the 1974 paper by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn describing what became the TCP/IP technology for transferring data reliably across such a network.
This diagram of a packet-switching network appears in the 1974 paper by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn describing what became the TCP/IP technology for transferring data reliably across such a network. IEEE/University of Massachusetts Amherst