The Internet Archive has been awarded the 2006 Microsoft Education Award from the San Jose Tech Museum’s Tech Award program for its commitment to building the world’s largest, free, online library. Founded in 1996 with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format, the Internet Archive now includes texts, moving images, audio, software in its collection. Additionally, its “Wayback Machine” gives the public access to 50 billion pages of archived web sites.

“We’re tremendously honored to accept this award, and honored to be on the company of the other laureates,” Rick Prelinger, Board President of Internet Archive, said after accepting the award. “In order for everyone to have access to the world’s great libraries and archives at home, in their school, at a library, a community center or an Internet café, we need to think carefully about the barriers that separate knowledge from those who desperately need it. In many parts of the world, access to knowledge can mean the difference between health and sickness, between education and ignorance, and between stability and a precarious existence.”

The Tech Awards program was launched in 2000, with the first awards being presented in 2001. The awards aim to inspire global engagement in applying technology to humanity’s most pressing problems by recognizing those that are utilizing technology to address critical issues. Awards are presented in five categories: Health, Education, Environment, Economic Development, and Equality.

For more information, and to visit the Internet Archive, click here.

For more information on The Tech Awards, click here.