Bits from Bill Pytlovany: How AOL Created the Internet

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.

Article continued here

This post is excerpted with Bill’s permission from his blog

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6 thoughts on “Bits from Bill Pytlovany: How AOL Created the Internet

  1. Richard Baker · Excelsior College, Albany New York

    I tend to say no matter who was first, the internet access to the public was long before 1995. I was using Aol 1.5 or 2.0 in 1992 and prodigy as well the same year. Besides, AOL 3.0 had been brought out in 1995….and the famous words, “You’ve got mail.”

    • I started using Genie back in 1991 or 1992. We’re talking about 2 different things. The internet, what we call today was used for business exclusively prior to 1995. That is when Prodigy decided to open it up to it’s customers. AOL did the same thing shortly afterwards, plus a lot of other ISPs. Over the past 17 yrs, it has spread around the world. Some aspects of the WWW is great and other aspects has created a lot of harm in our world.

  2. I tend to say no matter who was first, the internet access to the public was long before 1995. I was using Aol 1.5 or 2.0 in 1992 and prodigy as well the same year. Besides, AOL 3.0 had been brought out in 1995….and the famous words, "You've got mail."

    • I signed up with Prodigy back in the 80’s. In 1995, just after Prodigy opened up the internet to the public, I was offered a job with them. It was shortly afterwards that AOL jumped into the mix and opened it up to the public. Now AOL created the first chat rooms.

  3. I disagree with your regarding AOL and the internet. Prodigy opened up the internet to the public in Jan or Feb 1995, followed by AOL and CompuServe. Prior to that, it was strickly for businesses. I started using the internet in 1992 to write emails, because I didn’t want to spend 25 cents per message after I wrote 30 emails.

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