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There are no lone inventors

This post is based on a talk I gave at South by Southwest and a version of it first appeared at BBC Future.

Who invented the Internet?

To answer that seemingly simple question you basically have two options: you can go on for hours explaining the hundreds of people and institutions that contributed crucial advancements to the way that the Internet operates, or you can just say Vint Cerf. Or Leonard Kleinrock. Or Tim Berners-Lee.

People have been fighting for decades over who invented the net. Some will tell you that Vint Cerf’s work on its underlying protocols—TCP/IP—was its true beginning. Others will go back further in history and tell you that Leonard Kleinrock’s work on queuing theory was the real birth. Some may scoff at the idea of conflating the web and the Internet by suggesting Tim Berners-Lee, but in multiple-choice tests of the future the “right” answer will be determined by the next hundred years of how historians choose to tell that story.

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