Doing my 2¢ to kill a meme…

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Internet of Lies Claim: Vice-President Al Gore claimed that he “invented” the Internet.

Status: False.

Origins: Despite the derisive references that continue even today, Al Gore did not claim he “invented” the Internet, nor did he say anything that could reasonably be interpreted that way. The “Al Gore said he ‘invented’ the Internet” put-downs were misleading, out-of-context distortions of something he said during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “Late Edition” program on 9 March 1999.

As it turns out, it is reasonably accurate to say Al Gore was a strong supporter in Congress of the early Internet, and thus helped create the Internet we have today. On this topic, Vint Cerf has got to know as much or more than pretty much anyone else.

Vint Cerf responded to MSNBC Vint Cerf responded to MSNBC

From http://www.msnbc.com:80/news/249325.asp (which has apparently subsequently timed out). See also ``Revisionist Internet History.’’ —jsq

Vint Cerf responded to MSNBC’s questions about the Net’s origins with this e-mail:

VP Gore was the first or surely among the first of the members of Congress to become a strong supporter of advanced networking while he served as Senator. As far back as 1986, he was holding hearings on this subject (supercomputing, fiber networks…) and asking about their promise and what could be done to realize them. Bob Kahn, with whom I worked to develop the Internet design in 1973, participated in several hearings held by then-Senator Gore and I recall that Bob introduced the term ``information infrastructure’’ in one hearing in 1986. It was clear that as a Senator and now as Vice President, Gore has made it a point to be as well-informed as possible on technology and issues that surround it.

As Senator, VP Gore was highly supportive of the research community’s efforts to explore new networking capabilities and to extend access to supercomputers by way of NSFNET and its successors, the High Performance Computing and Communication program (which included the National Research and Education Network initiative), and as Vice President, he has been very responsive to recommendations made, for example, by the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee that endorsed additional research funding for next generation fundamental research in software and related topics. If you look at the last 30-35 years of network development, you’ll find many people who have made major contributions without which the Internet would not be the vibrant, growing and exciting thing it is today. The creation of a new information infrastructure requires the willing efforts of thousands if not millions of participants and we’ve seen leadership from many quarters, all of it needed, to move the Internet towards increased availability and utility around the world.

While it is not accurate to say that VP Gore invented Internet, he has played a powerful role in policy terms that has supported its continued growth and application, for which we should be thankful.

We’re fortunate to have senior level members of Congress and the Administration who embrace new technology and have the vision to see how it can be put to work for national and global benefit.

Of course, there were lots of folks around at the same time, who did not have a clue about the importance of the Internet. If you were one of those political blockheads, you would want to do anything to deflect attention away from your cluelessness. Better make fun of the guy who did have a clue.

(In fact there still at least a few in Congress without a clue.)