GeekHistory explores who invented the internet, the history of computers, and the origins of all things geek. History is often a matter of perspective, as it is seen through different eyes the answer to the question changes.
One of the biggest misconceptions of any type of history is when a single person is credited for a discovery we often fail to realize that the discovery was not the work of a single person done in a void of any outside influence. Many times the person given credit for an invention is one of a number of persons who can easily be credited for the invention.
GeekHistory puts "who invented it" into perspective.
Before you can answer the question as to who invented something, you need to define invention. People want to assign credit and glory to "who invented it" looking for those special individuals have those "eureka" moments.
There are visionaries who have an idea and see what is possible, often before the technology exists to make it real. There are inventors who take visions and made them real by proving the concepts in laboratory or creating the prototype. There are innovators who take a good invention and make it great. There are the industrialists who take an invention and develop it into an industry.
Does the first person to theorize the concept on paper get credit for the invention? Is it the first person to build a working prototype really the person who invented it? Is it the person who got credit for the concept at the US Patent office really the owner of the invention? Is it the person who first commercially marketed the product really the one who gets credit for the invention?
Technology is an ongoing evolution of experiments and improvements. Very seldom is a new product or process in the world of technology the result of one "eureka" moment of a single inventor in a laboratory.
The following quote by Mark Twain that really nails it when it comes to inventions and inventors. “It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.”
Defining an invention is a rhetorical question. Let me conclude with my own rhetorical question. Why do we fight over who gets credit for an invention, rather than honor and respect all those who have contributed in turning visions into reality?
Who invented the internet?
There are so many urban legends and so much folk lore surrounding the internet. I have read so many articles where the history of the internet is so mangled. The internet was an evolution of many different communications and technology tools coming together to create the communications system we now call the internet. There are many key players in this evolution, to give any single one credit for inventing the internet does not do justice to the many contributions that were so significant.
Who invented the television?
Next to the internet, arguably the next most significant invention, as far as impact on the life of the average American, is the television. But how many Americans can actually tell you who invented it? There are many arguments here as well, as to who should get credit for inventing the technology used in the first commercial televisions.
The goal of GeekHistory
My lifelong love of history and technology comes together at GeekHistory. I began working with radios and telecommunications in the Army National Guard in the 1970s and my first certification was a FCC general class radiotelephone license. A life long evolution from field service technician for various office automation companies through my current career in systems administration and telecommunications has inspired me as a writer and web developer of technology topics.The idea for the website GeekHistory started out with teaching Internet and browser basics courses in 1996. Even though the internet went commercial in the mid 1990s, I would start each course with a brief history lesson showing the evolution of the internet that started in the 1960s. I registered the domain GeekHistory.com back in 2001. It was just a shell of a website for many years, just an idea bouncing around in my brain.
I am not a university professor with a team of editors and advisers working with me developing a website. I am one man who loves technology and history and is amazed by how little people know about the great minds in the world of technology. Geek History is not meant to be an authoritative source for technology history. In depth discussions of the technology is kept to a minimum. We are just trying to get you to think about the many amazing people that have contributed to the work of technology. Our goal is to increase awareness, educate, and entertain. One of my inspirations for the Guru42 Universe is the Oliver Wendall Holmes quote, "Man's mind once stretched never goes back to its original dimension." The more I learn about geek history, the more questions I have, and the more I want to know.
The all encompassing footnote
The collection of material for the study of geek history dates back to my early days in technology as far back as the 1970s. You will find specific footnotes and references on many pages with links to current websites. Anytime a claim is made or a fact is stated from a website or blog that does not appear to have first hand knowledge of the subject I make a note to follow up on it. I can assure you that anything I have written is based on verification of facts from a source as close to the events and individuals as possible or multiple sources of information from leading publications or references.