Way before Tim Berners Lee came up with HTML, I was using the internet, sending email, reading usenet, playing MUDs, netrek, and hacking Unix.
The internet has been around far longer than the WWW, and even the more significant technologies related to the WWW were invented in the US.
the ISP? Check
SGML (basis of HTML)? Check (IBM's GML)
Graphical Web browser? Check
I remember pirating warez in the early 80s and trading with Europeans in the UK, Holland, and Germany, and the fact of the matter was, there was no as thriving a online community in Europe in those days. They owned inferior hardware (more expensive in Europe), and generally, someone in the US had a 9600 baud modem, whilst a European had 1200 or 2400 baud. Any European who was a major online surfer had to use stolen phone/calling cards.
I could go on and on. Face it, the telecomm market in Europe sucks ass. The socialist economy sucks ass. Many Europeans even pay per minute phone rates for local calls! How the hell can you have a vibrant surfing/ecommerce community when you are feeling the pressure to log off because of your phone bill?
Europeans even know they are better off in the US economy. Want freedom? Want to work for big bucks? Want to start your own company? Want to get investment? want to work at exciting places? Europe has no real equivalent of Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Austin, or Northern Virginia.
If you live in California, there is a party everynight where you can meet hundreds of young people working on hot technology. The geek social scene is way better. The only European equivalent is the demo-scene parties which wreak of young pimply faced teens, not 20-something entrpreneur geeks.
The real innovation and action is happening here, and if Europeans know better, like Linus, they come here.
Fix the European economy first by tossing out the socialists and maybe things will be better. Otherwise, keep dreaming and revering Tim Berners Lee, you're only memorable star.