You are reading this thanks to the contribution of many people, but one man in particular is directly responsible for the way you pulled this up on a browser. He developed the language which describes the Web page you are viewing, Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), and he even coined the term iWorld Wide Webi. That man is Tim Berners-Lee.
Perhaps more importantly, Mr. Berners-Lee insisted that the Web be free, and that HTML be available for all to use. To that end, he did not patent his ideas, and the Web was free to grew into what we know today. Had he taken a profitable stance, he would likely be a rich man now, instead, he became an average Joe, with few people knowing his accomplishments.
According to an article in E-Commerce Times, however, Mr. Berners-Lee has finally gotten his due; he was recently awarded the US$1.65 million Millennium Technology Prize for his all-but-forgotten efforts. From the article:
That is why some people think it is fitting or about time that he finally becomes wealthy, with the award Tuesday of the worldis largest technology prize, the Millennium Technology Prize from the Finnish Technology Award Foundation. The US$1.65 million prize for outstanding technological achievements that raised the quality of life is supported by the Finnish government and private contributors.
"It was a very nice surprise," Berners-Lee said in an interview Sunday as three days of ceremonies began.
Pekka Tarjanne, the former director general of the International Telecommunication Union who led the awards selection committee, said it was "surprisingly easy" to settle on Berners-Lee as the prizeis first recipient, despite the 78 nominations and the eight judges on the committee.
If his then-employer, CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, had sought royalties, Berners-Lee said he believed the world would have 16 different "webs" on the Internet today. "Goodness knows, there were plenty of hypertext systems before that didnit interoperate," he said. "There would have been a CERN Web, a Microsoft one, there would have been a Digital one, Appleis HyperCard would have started reaching out Internet roots. And all of these things would have been incompatible."
Thereis more information in the full article at E-Commerce Times, including discussion of software patents, and other related issues. We recommend as an interesting read.