History of the Internet and World Wide Web

As with many modern inventions, the inception of the internet began in the 1960's with roots extending back to Science Fiction of the 1920's and then the science of the 1940's.

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Wow! Science Fiction? Yes. In fact the contemporary use of the internet as a vehicle for channeling music was explored in multiple books in the 1920's and the 1930's. But no-one thought of the name "World Wide Web" except in novels about the attacking Spider Aliens. The first scientific mention of a vehicle for the better aggregation and organization of information seems to have been by Vannevar Bush, the Director of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development in a July, 1945 article in the Atlantic Monthly.

Then along came one of America's great geniuses, Doug Engelbart who invented the mouse! At least 15 years before Apple began to use Graphical User Interfaces, (type of interfaces which enable people to interact with information in more ways than just typing on a keyboard) Doug Engelbart was giving demonstrations of the future web. His work is chronicled by Wired magazine in "The Click Heard Around the World."

It was not long after this that Ted Nelson coined the phrase "Hypertext" at the 20th National Conference of ACM (The Association for Computing Machinery in his work A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing, and the Indeterminate.

This was followed in 1968, by ARPA's (Advanced Research Projects Agency) request for bids on the fulfillment of an infrastructure which was considered "outlandish" and "bizarre". Just like the railroads which linked the country in the 1800's for freight and commerce, and the interstate highways which revolutionized truck and auto transportation in the 1950's, ARPAnet was it was then called was funded by the U.S. Government.

ARPAnet initially linked up three California Universities and the University of Utah. It was designed to enhance communication between Universities with the specific intent of enabling greater access to high powered communication resources. Initially it linked university and military computer networks to enable the sharing of files and resources. In 1983, the military portion of ARPAnet was broken off to create MILnet which reduced the number of nodes in ARPAnet from 113 to 68. The myth that ARPAnet was military project or designed to resist nuclear attack persists today, but it is in fact just that, a myth.

After World War Two, Americans returned to a country which had the only undamaged industrial complex in the world. This complex had been built using the tax dollars of the entire populace in order to fight a war against the Axis powers. It was a little known fact that Ford still owned factories operating in Germany and IBM still had contracts in Germany as well. The profits from these factories and contracts had been consistently squirreled away to Swiss accounts and after the war, these companies were able to utilize them.

The American people paid for the augmentation of corporate industry during and after World War II and continue to pay for the augmentation of corporate industry today. The only difference between Japan's Keiretsu and their interdependence with the Japanese Government is that the American companies have become increasingly less accountable to the American people, whereas the Japanese corporate philosophy includes a strong value of "life long employment" for their workers.

There have been few, if any, major infrastructure efforts in the United States that have not been funded by the American people. This includes the electrical power infrastructure, the railroads, highways and the telecom infrastructure, all of which were funded by the American people. Today's internet and tommorrows technology will be funded by the American taxpayer. This is how it is done. Does it upset you? Would you like to live without these amenities?

The internet now belongs to the world but it was first created through funding by the U.S. Government. Just like your local police and fire departments are paid for by local, state and federal taxes. Libraries and Public Schools are likewise paid for by taxes through the structure of government. The United States was blessed with the creation of the first government by the people and for the people. Perhaps this very concept of an elected government, accountable to the people and not simply the vehicle for elites of one kind or another to rape, pillage or otherwise take advantage of the general populace is the reason the internet exists today.

The contemporary internet came into its modern form with the advent of the World Wide Web which was the brainchild of Englishman Timothy Berners-Lee during a consultation at Geneva, Switzerland's CERN nuclear research laboratory in 1980.

From these nascent moments, World Wide Web or WWW truly sprang into existence ten years later, shortly after Tim was given the "ok" to purchase a "NeXT cube" and write a global hypertext system in 1990. At about the same time, America Online or AOL was created from Quantum Link which was a telecom game distribution system. Early users of America Online were able to use a GUI interface to interact and there was a particular emphasis on Social Interaction which preceded and predicted the rise of Social Media of today. The key failure of Time-Warner after its purchase of AOL was to radically alter its content delivery systems so that it could fully take advantage of this social aspect of the AOL network. At the time of the merger AOL was extremely valuable and its intrinsic value was directly related to the social networking aspect of the system. Because of the proprietary nature of AOL, which included censorship functions it quickly lost its appeal with the advent of other more accessible media opportunities for the public.

What are you doing to make your company, your product more accessible and useful to the public?

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