Who Really Invented the Internet?

– Al Gore did, Right?

Well, no…Al Gore did, however, quite famously, make this statement during and interview with CNN in March of 1999 “…I took the initiative in creating the Internet…” Former Vice President Gore’s poor choice in words propelled enough media “hoopla” that it still has not died out more then 15 years later, leaving some to wonder who DID invent the internet?

– So, who then?

Depending on the definition of “The Internet”, who actually invented it, could be up for debate. As early and the 1940’s the United States Government envisioned a system of data that could be stored on one main frame and could be accessible to those within that main frames network. In 1968 Bob Taylor, a computer scientist with the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), had developed a plan that generally encompassed the idea of Time-Sharing, where MIT, UC Berkley and System Development Corp had systems that also connected to the pentagon. The concept of Time-Sharing, however, was initiated in 1957 by John McCarthy.

BBN Technologies won the bid to develop ARPA network in April of 1969. The BBN team, lead by Frank Heart, went on to develop the infrastructure that is the basis for todays Internet. In the 1970’s Xerox developed PARC Universal Packet or PUP which implemented the packet delivery system the Internet uses today. However in 1973 Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf had come up with a “fundamental Reformulation” of existing protocols and TCP/IP the backbone of todays Internet was born.

– Ok…So Who Invented the Internet?

So, did the United States government invent the Internet or was it private citizens who invented it? It appears that the Internet was not “invented” by any one individual or entity, or even at all, but rather a collaboration of ideas and prototypes that fit together to “develop” the Internet over time. The most important invention on the road to the development of the modern Internet is notably TCP/IP protocol, without which today’s Internet would cease to function. One could also argue that because the majority of systems and prototypes leading to the Internet was developed under U.S. government grants, the United States Government invented the Internet. However, when all the evidence is weighed it does appear that the real answer to “Who invented the Internet?” is arguably, no one at all!

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