By Bill Pytlovany
How AOL Created the Internet
Last week Gordon Crovitz created a hornets nest of debate with an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Who Really Invented the Internet?” This new article has generated more responses and distortions than Al Gore’s interview with Wolf Blitzer on March 9th, 1999 when he said, “I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”
The goal of the WSJ article seems to downplay the governments’ role in developing technology that helped generate successful Internet businesses. What appeared to be a tech article turns out to be a political piece.
Mr. Crovitz would instead give full credit to Xerox PARC labs for their creation of Ethernet. He even managed to weave Steve Jobs into his story acknowledging Jobs saw potential in Xerox which included the graphical user interface he would later use at Apple.
I’ve read a number of articles which rebut the Journal and most mention Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn who created TCP/IP while working on the government project called ARPANET. Ironically, many articles neglected to mention Sir Tim Berners-Lee who was honored during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. NBC’s lack of info had everyone scrambling to search his contribution in creating a web standards group. Sir Tim documented application protocols and gets credit for HTTP, HTML and the URL format used to define hyperlinks. HTML is actually derived from SGML a mark-up language that itself resulted in early research by IBM.
In fact, most of the fame given to Internet pioneers is related to the technical networks and “protocols” used to transfer or present data in a meaningful, standard way.
So when I claim that AOL, who used a proprietary communication protocol(P3) and a display convention(FDO) optimized for 300 baud modem traffic, created the Internet, I’m going to make some heads spin.
This post is excerpted with Bill’s permission from his blog