Perhaps Gore Crossed the Atlantic?

In an ad placed by the Department of Trade and Industry in the latest issue of the Economist, Britain claims to have invented (among other things) the Internet. Can anyone vouch for this?

(On an unrelated note, I’d advise against flying from Milan Malpensa airport – especially if you’re going to O’Hare.)

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6 Responses to Perhaps Gore Crossed the Atlantic?

  1. Verdurous says:

    Andrew, not you too !

    Al Gore in fact NEVER said that he “invented” the internet, though this myth has taken hold in many quarters and repeated ad nauseum by right wing blogs and media.

    However, he did promote the spread and development of ARPANET which was set free the market (from its origins as a small government program).

    Internet pioneer Vince Cerf (and others) believes Al Gore was critical in the development of the internet. But did he invented it? No….and never claimed to.

  2. Verdurous says:

    On your original point though Andrew, Sir Tim Berners Lee is the man most credited with the development of the WWW and he is indeed a pommy.

    “Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, FRSA, born June 8, 1955 (1955-06-08) (age 52) is the inventor of the World Wide Web, director of the World Wide Web Consortium (which oversees its continued development), and a senior researcher and holder of the 3Com Founders Chair at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).[1]”

    It seems he did much work in Britain though later at CERN in Geneva (where first web site was created), later he moved to the U.S.

    It is of course difficult for one country to claim the internet as their own invention.

    Continued at:

    See here:

  3. Kevin Cox says:

    The genesis of the internet were the packet switching networks developed in the sixties and produced by ARPA (a US defence funded agency). The earlier urban myths were that they were developed as a solution to the knocking out of communications nodes in the event of an atomic war but the reason is more mundane.

    Packet switching networks enable you to have reliable communications for long messages because you break up long messages into small messages and then if part of the message gets corrupted you only have to resend the packet in error not the whole lot.

  4. Tim Worstall says:

    As above. WWW a Brit invention (or invented by a Brit at CERN) yes, the internet no.

  5. Verdurous,

    Andrew is right to mock Al Gore. While Gore deserves credit for his early promotion of ARPANET and network technology generally, there is no way to reconcile that minor role with his claim that he “took the initiative in creating the Internet” — not without ignoring the established meanings of “initiative” and “create”. Unfortunately political figures have a long and inglorious history of claiming credit for things they’ve merely facilitated or supported, and the controversy that followed Gore’s comments was a good (if only too rare) example of the independent scrutiny with which those claims should be met.

    It’s also worth remembering that whatever credibility Gore had in computing circles was seriously damaged when he championed the Clipper Chip in 1993 — not only a policy disaster but an initiative that really flew in the face what the Internet stood for.

    With regards to Andrew’s initial question: I don’t think there’s much debate that the Internet was a US invention. All of the core technologies were developed in US research centres: DARPA, MIT, Stanford, Xerox PARC, Berkeley, etc.

    The Economist advertisement may be referring to Berners-Lee. More likely it’s referring to Donald Davies, who co-invented packet-switched networks. Although just as the Internet and the WWW are not synonymous, the Internet and “packet-switched networks” aren’t either. The Internet is a particular packet-switched network, based on TCP/IP (or protocols that link to TCP/IP gateways). There are packet-switched networks based on other protocols, like X.25, although they’re becoming rarer.

  6. Verdurous says:


    From Merriam-Webster dictionary:

    “invent: to produce (as something useful) for the first time through the use of the imagination or of ingenious thinking and experiment ”

    “create: to bring into existence”

    I’m sure you’ll agree the difference is an important one. Gore’s actual quote is far less grandiose than the one that dominated media outlets during the presidential campaign of 2000.

    Does this matter? Sure it does. This particular fabrication formed the basis of a character attack which represented Gore as a liar despite previously being previously regarded as being very honest and straight down the line. While Andrew’s use here is playful and unlikely to cause harm, misrepresentations can be powerful and long-lived. Sadly, for all of us, this one helped to enthrone the environmental vandal from Texas.

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