Tim O'Reilly (@timoreilly) July 25, 2012
Following an article on The Wall Street Journal from columnist Gordon Crovitz, titled “Who Really Invented the Internet?“, Vint Cerf, ”father of the internet” and Google’s chief internet evangelist, is weighing in on Crovtz’ assertion that the government’s hand in creating the Internet is an “urban legend.” In an email interview with CNET, the man behind the evolution of TCP/IP networking protocols disagreed with Crovitz and talked about his involvement in the development of the Web:
In his Wall Street Journal column, Gordon Crovitz writes that the federal government’s involvement in the creation of the Internet was modest. Does that jibe with your recollection?
Vint Cerf: No. The United States government via ARPA started the project. (Bob Kahn initiated the Internetting project when he joined ARPA in late 1972. He had been principal architect of the ARPANET IMP (packet switch) while at BBN.
As for Crovitz’ claim that “full credit” should go to Xerox PARC Labs, Cerf said the following:
No. Xerox gets and deserves credit for great work: Ethernet (that was stimulated by the ARPA-sponsored radio Alohanet at University of Hawaii); the laser printer; the ALTO personal computer; Xerox Network System and PARC Universal Packet (PUP) — this system was kept proprietary and while its developers occasionally gave hints as to its operation in my Stanford seminars where TCP/IP was being more elaborately developed, they did not go very far commercially. XNS ended up as IPX in the Novell systems and eventually died in favor of TCP/IP. XEROX did link homogenous Ethernets together but the internetworking method did not scale particularly well. NSFNET pushed the boundaries of scale leading to the development of the Border Gateway Protocol, a successor to the Exterior Gateway Protocol originally used in the Internet (not counting some experimental gateways even earlier). The Internet was designed to link heterogeneous network together from the start (ARPANET, Packet Radio Net and Packet Satellite Net).
To read the full interview with Cerf, head over to CNET…