Who Really Invented the Internet?


Contrary to legend, it wasn't the federal government, and the Internet had nothing to do with maintaining communications during a war.

A telling moment in the presidential race came recently when Barack Obama said: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." He justified elevating bureaucrats over entrepreneurs by referring to bridges and roads, adding: "The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all companies could make money off the Internet."

It's an urban legend that the government launched the Internet. The myth is that the Pentagon created the Internet to keep its communications lines up even in a nuclear strike. The truth is a more interesting story about how innovation happens—and about how hard it is to build successful technology companies even once the government gets out of the way.

For many technologists, the idea of the Internet traces to Vannevar Bush, the presidential science adviser during World War II who oversaw the development of radar and the Manhattan Project. In a 1946 article in The Atlantic titled "As We May Think," Bush defined an ambitious peacetime goal for technologists: Build what he called a "memex" through which "wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified."

That fired imaginations, and by the 1960s technologists were trying to connect separate physical communications networks into one global network—a "world-wide web." The federal government was involved, modestly, via the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. Its goal was not maintaining communications during a nuclear attack, and it didn't build the Internet. Robert Taylor, who ran the ARPA program in the 1960s, sent an email to fellow technologists in 2004 setting the record straight: "The creation of the Arpanet was not motivated by considerations of war. The Arpanet was not an Internet. An Internet is a connection between two or more computer networks."

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A response piece from the LA Times.

Superfast internet may replace world wide web

By Lewis Carter
Last Updated: 2:47am BST 07/04/2008

The internet could soon be made obsolete by a new "grid" system which is 10,000 times faster than broadband connections.

Scientists in Switzerland have developed a lightning-fast replacement to the internet that would allow feature films and music catalogues to be downloaded within seconds.

The invention could signal the end of the dreaded 'frozen screen', when computers seize up after being asked to process too much information.

The latest spin-off from Cern, the particle physics centre that created the internet, the grid could also provide the power needed to send sophisticated images; allow instant online gaming with hundreds of thousands of players; and offer high-definition video telephony for the price of a local call.

David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University and a leading figure in the grid project, believes grid technology could change society.

He said: "With this kind of computing power, future generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine."

The power of the grid will be unlocked this summer with the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a new particle accelerator designed to investigate how the universe began.

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Law aims for broadband boost

Law aims for broadband boost
Phone companies that extend Internet service would qualify for credits
Posted: May 30, 2006

Phone companies that extend broadband Internet service to unserved rural areas will qualify for up to $7.5 million in tax credits under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jim Doyle on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 483, which was introduced by Sens. Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield) and Robert Jauch (D-Poplar), aims to spur investment by telecom providers in areas that are less profitable because of the location or low population density.

The bill was hailed as a boon to development in rural areas by representatives of both AT&T and TDS Telecom Corp.

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Internet Archive's value, legality debated in copyright suit

Internet Archive's value, legality debated in copyright suit

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - An ongoing lawsuit between a company and a popular archive of Web pages raises questions about whether the archive unavoidably violates copyright laws while providing a valuable service, according to attorneys and an independent law expert.

The San Francisco-based nonprofit Internet Archive was created in 1996 to preserve Web pages that will eventually be deleted or changed. More than 55 billion pages are stored there.

A health care company claims the archive didn't do enough to protect copyrighted information that helped a competing firm win a trademark suit.

The archive ``is just like a big vacuum cleaner, sucking up information and making it available'' to anyone with a Web browser, said Scott S. Christie, an attorney representing Healthcare Advocates Inc.

``That has some social value, but in doing so they are grabbing information that they're not entitled to,'' he said. ``More importantly, they are telling people that they will take it off the shelf if you do a certain thing a certain way -- but that didn't happen in this case.''

Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor Michael Shamos, an expert in Internet law, said archiving like that done by the Internet Archive is ``the biggest copyright infringement in the world,'' but said it is done in a way ``that almost nobody cares about.''

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Madison: Downtown wireless is free for now

Downtown wireless is free for now
City's Internet service to get going today
By Lee Sensenbrenner

If you're downtown, there's a good chance you'll be able to get free broadband wireless Internet service for the next two months or so.

The first transmitter for the city's long-anticipated wireless network was to be mounted to a traffic signal pole this afternoon by Cellnet Technology Inc. at the corner of Main Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Other transmitters will extend to the near east and near west sides, as well as the airport. Until this phase of the citywide Wi-Fi project is completed - due for the end of March - the network will be open and free of charge, confirmed Eve Galanter, spokeswoman for Cellnet.

"As it goes up, people will likely be able to get it on a trial-and-error basis," Galanter said, depending on whether they are in range of one of the newly installed transmitters.

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Internet Coalition Sets Up Anti-'Badware' Site

Internet Coalition Sets Up Anti-'Badware' Site

By Arshad Mohammed
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 25, 2006; Page D04

A group including Google Inc. and institutes at Harvard and Oxford universities plans to unveil a campaign today against spyware and other malicious computer programs that can steal personal information, snoop on your Web surfing and bombard you with pop-up ads.

The coalition, which is receiving unpaid advice from Consumer Reports WebWatch, is launching a Web site -- http://www.stopbadware.org/ -- to catalogue programs that infect unsuspecting users and to let them check whether something is dangerous before downloading it.

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Cigarette tax just the start, some say

Cigarette tax just the start, some say
But state denies it would seek to collect taxes from other products bought over the Internet
Posted: July 20, 2005

Madison - The state's pursuit of more than $1 million in back taxes and penalties from online cigarette customers could hint at the Department of Revenue's plans to go after taxes on computers, books and other goods bought over the Internet, tax attorneys and analysts said Wednesday.

Department of Revenue officials disputed that speculation, saying they would pursue only online cigarette customers.

They also said Wednesday that they recently received lists of Wisconsin customers from four more such businesses that would generate at least $2 million more in tax bills.

With people increasingly buying products online without paying the state sales tax, experts said the department would soon seek ways to collect those funds.

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Man Charged With Stealing Wi-Fi Signal

Man Charged With Stealing Wi-Fi Signal Wed Jul 6, 8:15 PM ET

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Police have arrested a man for using someone else's wireless Internet network in one of the first criminal cases involving this fairly common practice.

Benjamin Smith III, 41, faces a pretrial hearing this month following his April arrest on charges of unauthorized access to a computer network, a third-degree felony.

Police say Smith admitted using the Wi-Fi signal from the home of Richard Dinon, who had noticed Smith sitting in an SUV outside Dinon's house using a laptop computer.

The practice is so new that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement doesn't even keep statistics, according to the St. Petersburg Times, which reported Smith's arrest this week.

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XXX: A New Frontier for Cybersquatting?

XXX: A New Frontier for Cybersquatting?

By Keith Regan
E-Commerce Times
07/05/05 5:00 AM PT

"Let the unseemly cybersquatting begin," said Karen Whitehouse, an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)-watcher and author of the Weekend Geek blog. Though intended to make it easier to filter porn sites and keep people, especially children, from stumbling across them by accident, the upshot might be to force people and companies to register domains as a defensive move.

At first glance, the proposal to create a new cyberspace red light district with the .xxx domain seems a clear win for legitimate businesses.

The domain, which has been approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), could essentially segregate adult-content and pornography, moving it out of the .com realm where the vast majority of legitimate commerce takes place.

However, the arrival of .xxx could also create a new set of headaches for companies with high-profiles and carefully guarded brands and trademarks if so-called cyber-squatters revive the practice of grabbing domain names and essentially holding them hostage -- and with this domain, the threat of real embarrassment from an .xxx Web site using the company's name.

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