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In a WSJ op ed today Gordon Crovitz claims:

If the government didn't invent the Internet, who did? Vinton Cerf developed the TCP/IP protocol, the Internet's backbone, and Tim Berners-Lee gets credit for hyperlinks.

But full credit goes to the company where Mr. Taylor worked after leaving ARPA: Xerox. It was at the Xerox PARC labs in Silicon Valley in the 1970s that the Ethernet was developed to link different computer networks.

Amazing misinformation, from a guy who's now involved in funding Internet startups who either doesn't know better, or lies. The Internet is not Ethernet. Never has been. Ethernet doesn't any any sense "link different computer networks." It's just one alternative for creating your local one, independent of its connection to the Internet.

The Internet does not run over Ethernet! It runs over TCP/IP. Which was as Crovitz grants in passing developed by Vint Cerf. Who was working at DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (entirely government funded).

As for Ethernet, Robert Metcalfe was the main inventor, not the guy Crovitz cites (although it was indeed at Xerox Parc). But Ethernet's a LAN architecture, not the architecture of the Internet backbone. Evidently the WSJ doesn't fact check its columnists.

Another essential innovator was Whitfield Diffie — he broke the government's monopoly on encryption, whhich turned out to be incredibly important to Internet commerce. I doubt he had any government funding for that. He was working at a corporation, so he's a good example of corporate innovation contributing. Crovitz doesn't mention him. Probably because he's a hippie.

As for who "invented" the Internet, military R&D, largely through DARPA, funded a major phase of its development. The core Internet though is UNIX + TCP/IP. UNIX came out of Bell labs at AT&T, which by antitrust consent decree from 1958 could not enter the commercial computer business, so freely licensed its creation (leading to the continuing tradition of open source, freely-licensed software at the core of the Internet).

Tim Berners-Lee suggested hypertext linking while working at government-funded CERN in Switzerland. The first significant browser, Mosaic, was developed at The National Center for Supercomputing Applications which was and is as you might imagine by the title largely federally funded. Mosaic became Netscape when taken private.

All this shows the value of public-private partnerships to build America.

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