If you rely on News Feed in Facebook to find my posts, you're missing most of them. On average, only 16% of updates in Facebook make it into News Feeds. Let me suggest that you subscribe to me in Facebook, follow me on Twitter (@ccengct), or use an RSS reader.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Who did invent the Internet?

Al Gore did not actually claim to have invented the Internet, although as documented in Snopes he did make an assertion about his role that is subject to debate. If not Gore, who did? The 1970s were a fantastic time to be studying computer communications, as I did at Georgia Tech for eight years. By 1980, most of the seminal work on the Internet had been completed. The first record I have of personally using the Internet at Nortel dates to 1991. Here are my opinions:

  • Leonard Kleinrock, a professor at UCLA whose PhD thesis at MIT provided the mathematical foundation for computer communications.
  • Donald Davies, a leading-edge computer scientist from Wales.
  • Larry Roberts, another MIT PhD who figured out how to turn all these ideas into tangible products and commercialize them.
  • Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, two more PhDs who devised the first highly successful protocol (TCP) that ran on top of the Internet. Think of them as the guys who designed the first two-story building.
Note that inventing the Internet was both an "east coast" and a "west coast" thing. Note also that these guys moved in and out of academia, government-funded research, and private industry in a very fluid manner. Without those three sectors working together, it would have taken a lot longer for the Internet to emerge.

There are many others names, of course. Two good lists are here and here.