The rocker was selected for the prize, named after electric guitar pioneer Les Paul, in recognition of his achievements in audio technology and production.
The TEC Awards celebrate the work of audio professionals, and Townshend recalled his own early attempts at recording music as he picked up his trophy at the ceremony in Anaheim, California.
He told guests, "When I was 17 or 18, I got a couple of tape machines at home, and in the tradition of the great, great, great Les Paul and a couple of other people who did the same thing, I took these machines into my home and took these machines into my home to write music.
"From that moment on, I waited and waited and waited, and every idea that I ever had, or every hope that I ever had for a device that would do something that I wanted to do, you fabulous people made it for me."
He added, "I've been lucky that I could afford expensive equipment and eventually a studio, and you can see me at home fiddling with different machines. But out on the road now, with iPads and other bits and pieces, I'm very capable of doing things with those things as well. I just need to carry my guitars, keyboards, and cables, my mic stands!"
Townshend is in good company as the latest recipient of the Les Paul Award - previous winners include Sir Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young.
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