From: Mike Masnick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Oct 02 2000 - 00:54:53 PDT
Since there recently was a bit of a debate on FoRK concerning Al Gore and
the invention of the internet, I thought some folks might find this
incredibly long and detailed article about the matter interesting. I
actually thought it was fascinating. The article looks at what he really
said, how people reacted to it, and then what he really has done with
regards to the internet and technology. It's really more about how
American culture likes to pick up on one small point and repeat the joke to
death with no interest in actually understanding what really happened.
It has become an automatic laugh. Jay Leno, David Letterman, or any other
comedic talent can crack a joke about Al Gore "inventing the Internet," and
the audience is likely to respond with howls of laughter. Even Gore himself
participates in the merriment: in a recent episode of Leno's Tonight Show,
Vice President Al Gore was seen holding the cue cards. The joke? "Al Gore
invented cue cards" - a clear reference to Gore's supposed claim about the
invention of the Internet. In his September 26, 2000 town hall meeting held
as part of MTV's "Choose or Lose" series before a group of students at the
Media Union at the University of Michigan, Gore joked, "I invented the
environment." The students erupted in laughter. Gore is at once the object
and progenitor of the humor.
The commonly accepted wisdom is that Al Gore, prone to exaggerating his
record, claimed at one point on national television that he "invented the
Internet." Not only is this fodder for comedians' monologues, this widely
accepted folklore may have materially affected the 2000 Presidential
Gore is seen by many pundits, and presumably by millions in the public at
large, as a politician who makes up the facts to fit the desires of the
audience. Given the putative "fact" that he claimed to have "invented the
Internet," this tendency towards exaggeration apparently even extends to
Gore's own resume. No one would hire a new employee who was known to have
padded a resume; who would vote for a candidate for the presidency who had
done the same?
Gore has been effectively stopped from engaging in serious discussion of
Internet issues from the perspective of a politician who knew and cared
about the evolution of the national information infrastructure. The 2000
Presidential campaign has been deprived of debate and discourse that could
have been informative and beneficial to the Internet community and the
citizenry at large.
One might see these consequences as the natural - and deserved - outcome of
Gore's own exaggeration. There is only one problem with this evaluation. It
simply isn't true. Just as Rick never said "Play it again, Sam," in
Casablanca, Al Gore never claimed to have "invented the Internet." That
simple fact apparently isn't important to the journalists and comedians who
repeat the claim.
This article explores how the perception arose that Gore in essence padded
his resume by claiming to have invented the Internet. We will then explore
Gore's actual record, in particular as a U.S. Senator in the late 1980s, as
an advocate for high-speed national networking. Finally we will examine
this case as an example of the trivialization of discourse and debate in
What Gore Said
Although Al Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet, he did
discuss his role in Internet development in an interview with Wolf Blitzer
of Cable News Network. The interview took place on March 9, 1999 during
CNN's "Late Edition" show. Specifically, what Gore said was "I took the
initiative in creating the Internet."
A cynic might observe that "creating the Internet" and "inventing the
Internet" are tantamount to the same exaggeration. But let's look at the
entire quote in the context of the colloquy with Blitzer. Here is Blitzer's
entire query to Gore:
BLITZER: I want to get to some of the substance of domestic and
international issues in a minute, but let's just wrap up a little bit of
the politics right now.
Why should Democrats, looking at the Democratic nomination process, support
you instead of Bill Bradley, a friend of yours, a former colleague in the
Senate? What do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring
to this process?
Clearly, Blitzer is asking Gore to offer an explanation of how he differs
as a politician from other politicians in general, and his rival at the
time, Bill Bradley, in particular. Here is Gore's entire response to
GORE: Well, I will be offering - I'll be offering my vision when my
campaign begins. And it will be comprehensive and sweeping. And I hope that
it will be compelling enough to draw people toward it. I feel that it will
But it will emerge from my dialogue with the American people. I've traveled
to every part of this country during the last six years. During my service
in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the
Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of
initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic
growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.
During a quarter century of public service, including most of it long
before I came into my current job, I have worked to try to improve the
quality of life in our country and in our world. And what I've seen during
that experience is an emerging future that's very exciting, about which I'm
very optimistic, and toward which I want to lead.
Here Gore appears to have been caught off guard a bit by the question,
rambling a bit as he seeks to vocalize a responsive answer. He emphasizes
his work during his years in the Congress - Gore served in the House and
later the Senate - as well as his leadership on various issues. Perhaps not
showing the most elegant variation in words, he mentions "initiative" three
times. Clearly his overall message is that he worked hard on a number of
issues, and took a leadership position relative to others - presumably
including his rival Bradley. The overall thrust is that Gore paints himself
as a forward-looking legislator and political leader.
The rest of the interview dealt with George Bush and Elizabeth Dole as
potential rivals, with Clinton proposals for community policing, with the
Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, and with the notion of engagement with China. If
Blitzer thought he had caught Gore in a gaffe, he did not take note of it
during the interview.
But if Blitzer didn't notice (or try to exploit) the gaffe, the rest of the
press had a field day. Articles and television coverage ridiculed Gore's
statement. Most of these reports covered the issue rather lightly, and
dismissing the veracity of Gore's remark with a superficial statement along
the lines that "The Internet was invented in the late 1960s" or "The
Internet was invented in 1969."
Of course, Internet history is not that easily characterized. Any news
report that tries to summarize Internet history by dating its origin to the
1960s or the year 1969 is oversimplifying. Such a news report is as sloppy
as the statement for which they take Gore to task. There were too many
significant milestones in Internet history to allow for a sound-bite length
description of that history.
Many reports linked Gore's misstatement with previous Gore gaffes. For
instance, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times editorialized in its March 24,
Gore's recent statement that as a member of Congress he had taken the
initiative in "creating the Internet" drew hoots of laughter, especially
from Republicans. Gore has long been a promoter of the Internet, but he
didn't invent it. Trying to keep a straight face, Senate Majority Leader
Trent Lott quickly issued a news release claiming that he invented the
paper clip. This was not the first time Gore has overreached. A year ago
Gore told reporters that he and his wife, Tipper, at the time when they
were college sweethearts, were the inspiration for the novel "Love Story."
That came as news to the befuddled author, Erich Segal.
The editorialist saw the Internet statement as part of a pattern of hype,
of Gore overstating his own accomplishments. Like Lott, other politicians
saw Gore's statement as fodder for ridicule. Dan Quayle took up the bait,
quoted as saying, "If Gore invented the Internet, then I invented
The Arizona Republic noted in an editorial that "Gore has a way of
morphing, Zelig-like into the lives of whomever he's addressing." The
editorial showed Gore some mercy, however, continuing: "In fact, as the
chairman of a key science subcommittee in 1986, Gore did foster the
creation of five supercomputer centers through the National Science
Foundation that became the cornerstone of the Internet."
The Republic was in the minority with this balanced reportage. Most other
media outlets downplayed or omitted Gore's role as a Senator in supporting
national networking initiatives, instead concentrating on the apparent
gaffe. By this point, there was little hope of correcting the record in
journalists' minds. And, as the Republic observed, "Alas, too late. Leno's
already worked him into the monologue."
And indeed, Jay Leno and David Letterman had worked the story into their
monologues - and other material. Letterman's "Top Ten List" for June 16,
1999, was entitled the "Top Ten Things Starr Has Found Out About Al Gore."
Entry number 7 was:
Although he didn't invent the internet [sic], he did invent those annoying
bits of punctuation that look like sideways faces :-)
By December the joke hadn't lost its appeal to Letterman and his writers.
The December 3, 1999 Top Ten list demonstrates:
Top Ten Other Achievements Claimed By Al Gore
10. Was first human to grow an opposable thumb
9. Only man in world to sleep with someone named "Tipper"
8. Current Vice President - Moesha fan club
7. He invented the dog
6. While riding bicycle one day, accidentally invented the orgasm
5. Pulled U.S. out of early 90's recession by personally buying 6,000 T-shirts
4. Starred in CBS situation comedy with Juan Valdez, "Juan for Al, Al for
3. Was inspiration for Ozzy Osboune song "Crazy Train"
2. Came up with popular catchphrase "Don't go there, girlfriend"
1. Gave mankind fire
The public quickly chimed into the fray soon after the CNN interview, as
well. Note, for instance, this letter from Lew Pritchett of Placentia,
California printed on March 19, 1999 in the Los Angeles Times:
Up until Gore's announcement, all I knew of his inventions was global
warming. And now, the Internet too? Wow, what a guy!
Even President Bill Clinton joined the frivolity, joking to the Gridiron
Club a week after the CNN interview:
"Al Gore invented the Internet. For the record, I, too, am an inventor. I
invented George Stephanopoulos."
(Source: Boston Globe, March 28, 1999.)
Repetition Equals Reality
Once Leno and Letterman, pundits, and opposition politicians had worked up
one-liners based on the false "invented the Internet" phrase, the stage was
set for the phrase to become the permanent, common understanding of the
public at large. Today's journalists are notorious for moving in packs, and
the packs tended to quote the phrase without citation - and without
checking the facts or the context. Months after the CNN interview,
husband-and-wife columnists Steve & Cokie Roberts reported on a series of
person-in-the-street exchanges. They noted in a January 2000 column:
When Gore does try to assert himself, it often backfires - witness his
claim that he helped invent the Internet. "He sounded naive when he said
that; he was just trying to make himself look good," says Mike, a telephone
lineman. "I just don't trust him; he doesn't know his facts."
Mike, the telephone repairman, appears to believe that Gore simply made up
a claim of inventing the Internet out of whole cloth - as if it were a
random, wanton schoolyard boast. Millions of people may share Mike's
superficial assessment. The phrase "Gore invented the Internet" has since
been burned into the public consciousness. Exploiting the situation, the
George W. Bush campaign has inserted the "issue" into the current
Presidential campaign, with a female voice on a national television ad
intoning, "If Al Gore invented the Internet, then I invented the remote
control." A Republican-sponsored Web site, gorewillsayanything.com, expands
on the theme.
Of course, Gore is a seasoned politician, noted for his caution - even
woodenness - when he is under the lights. We expect such a politician to
choose his words carefully. The question is whether journalists like Cokie
& Steve Roberts should be held to an equally high standard in quoting the
Vice President. After all, his remarks were made during a live-on-tape,
informal interview. The Robertses were writing for their syndicated column,
and presumably have plenty of resources at their disposal for fact checking
- and good fact checking includes getting quotes down accurately. Unlike
Gore in a live-on-tape interview, the Robertses also had plenty of real
time to get their facts and phrasing completely accurate. Even opinion
pieces ought to have their factual components rendered, well, factually. If
telephone lineman Mike and millions of other citizens had heard the
accurate quote of "I took the initiative in creating the Internet," and if
they understood the statement in the context of Gore's actual legislative
record, then they might have a very different impression of the Vice
The press, the politicians, the comedians, and the public all ended up with
the same image of Gore as resume fabricator. But if we assess Gore's
remarks in light of what he actually said, and examine his legislative
record, we find that Gore is guilty of somewhat sloppy terminology, not a
Who Invented What, and When Did They Invent It?
Although Gore never said that he "invented the Internet," he did say he
"took the initiative in creating the Internet." Can that claim be
substantiated? As we will see, Gore did indeed take an intellectual and
legislative interest in promoting high-speed data networks in the United
States, and he did this during the 1980s, at a time long before most
members of the public - let alone most politicians - were thinking about
The Internet Society hosts a monograph called called "A Brief History of
the Internet." (See http://www.isoc.org/internet-history/brief.html) The
authors include some of the designers of the essential components of how
the Internet works today: Barry M. Leiner, Vinton G. Cerf, David D. Clark,
Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Daniel C. Lynch, Jon Postel, Larry G.
Roberts, and Stephen Wolff. The paper notes these key milestones in
1961: Leonard Kleinrock writes the first paper on packet switched networks.
1962: J.C.R. Licklider of MIT writes a paper describing a globally
connected "Galactic Network" of computers.
1966: Larry Roberts proposes the ARPANET to the Defense Department's
Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).
1968: ARPA issues Request for Quotations for the Interface Message
Processors (IMPs), which became the first routers.
1969: First IMP is installed at UCLA.
Early 1970s: Universities and defense agencies and contractors begin to
connect to ARPANET.
1973: Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf begin research into what eventually becomes IP
- the Internet Protocol and its companion, TCP - the Transmission Control
1973: Bob Metcalfe develops Ethernet, which had been the subject of his PhD
thesis, while working at Xerox.
Early 1980s: The Personal Computer revolution begins.
Mid 1980s: Local Area Networks (LANs) begin to flourish in business and
university environments. Campus area networks soon follow.
January 1, 1983: All "old-style" traffic on the ARPANET ceases, as TCP/IP
becomes the only protocol used. [Arguably, this is the date of the birth of
the Internet as a functioning, practical, production network.]
1985: Dennis Jennings chooses TCP/IP as the protocol for the planned
National Science Foundation Network (NSFnet).
1988: NSF sponsors a series of workshops at Harvard on the
commercialization and privatization of the Internet.
1988: Kahn et al. write a paper "Towards a National Research Network."
According to the Brief History, "This report was influential on then
Senator Al Gore, and ushered in high speed networks that laid the
networking foundation for the future information superhighway." [Emphasis
Note that these authors of (and participants in) Internet history state
clearly that as early as 1988, then-Senator Gore became involved in the
goal of building a national research network. We'll examine his role in
more detail later.
"The Brief History" by Cerf et al. details the key milestones in the
development of the Internet infrastructure that were essential for the
Internet to evolve into what we know and use today. They cite the conscious
decision to transition the Internet from a primarily defense, research, and
education network into a national network of networks incorporating private
as well as commercial traffic.
More recent developments brought about the global Internet as we know it
today. Before this infrastructure could be widely adopted, the world
demanded applications programs that large numbers of end users could in
fact use. By the early 1990s, most users of desktop computers were moving
from line-mode interfaces (e.g. MS-DOS) to graphical user interfaces
(MacOS, Windows, X-Window, etc.) At this time new applications programs
transformed the Internet into a tool the masses could use:
1991: Mark McCahill et al. (University of Minnesota) release the Internet
Gopher, the first widely-adopted menu-based system for browsing and
retrieving Internet-based documents.
1991: Tim Berners-Lee et al. at the European Center for High-Energy Physics
(CERN) describe the World Wide Web. The first browser is a line-mode tool.
March 1993: Mark Andreessen et al. at the National Center for
Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois release
Mosaic, the first widely-adopted graphical browser for the Web
September 1993: NCSA releases Macintosh and Windows versions of Mosaic.
Recent Internet history is well understood, with the commercialization of
long-haul networks, of Internet access companies, the creation of the
portal sites, and the rise of the dot-coms and of e-commerce.
Al Gore Meets the Information Highway
We have seen that Internet history cannot be easily summarized; there is no
one single moment of discovery or invention. Press reports that claim the
"Internet was invented in 1969" simply are not accurate; the term
"internet" had not yet been coined. The most accurate summary would avoid
use of the word "invent" altogether, as the Internet is not a single
technology or device. One might date the birth of the Internet to the
1970s, when Kahn and Cerf began research on the Internet Protocol, or the
1980s, when it came into widespread use. But as the timeline shows, the
basic underlying ideas date back as far as the early 1960s.
Clearly, then, if we take Gore literally at his word, he could not have
"taken the initiative in creating the Internet." As the ARPANET moved from
research to deployment, Gore was finishing college and serving in the Army
in Vietnam. From 1976 to 1985, Gore served in the House of Representatives.
From 1985 to 1992, he served in the Senate. The record shows that his
interest in national computer networking issues became acute during his
years in the Senate - when the Internet clearly was fully in operation.
So let us grant to Gore's critics that he was in no position to "take the
initiative in creating the Internet." But is it possible that Gore's
declaration, chosen in real time during a live-on-tape interview, could be
simply a poor choice of words - sloppy speaking on his part - and that a
slightly different formulation might be quite reasonably interpreted as
While the "Brief History" timeline gives us a good understanding of the
milestones in creating today's Internet, some perspective is required. The
mid-1980s until the early 1990s were the years when the Internet's
potential was proven, primarily in the realm of university activity. But
during this time, very few people in the public at large observed or
understood the importance of what was evolving. During the late 1980s,
Internet activity exploded, driven in large part by the National Science
Foundation's NSFnet. This national backbone connected universities at
then-high speeds (first 56 kilobits per second, then 1.5 megabits per
second, and finally in the early 1990s at 45 megabits per second).
A primary goal of the NSFnet was to allow university-based scientists,
located at a geographically dispersed range of institutions (both
domestically and internationally) to exploit the resources of five
supercomputer centers, also funded by the NSF and located at U.S.
universities and national labs. The fact that TCP/IP was selected for this
network in 1985 is probably one of the most unheralded milestones in
Internet history. It might have been different; a different choice of
protocol standard, such as X.25, DECnet, or even IBM's System Network
Architecture, might have been selected. Had that happened, the NSFnet would
not have played the important role it did in cementing TCP/IP in
particular, and the Internet in general, as the appropriate choice for a
global information infrastructure. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the
NSFnet exposed ever-growing audiences on university campuses to the
potential for ubiquitous wide-area networking.
All of this remained by and large unknown to the general public until the
explosion of the Web beginning late in 1993. The media took little note of
the Web revolution until 1994 and later. Just as Isaac Newton explained
that he "stood on the shoulders of giants," the primary inventor of the
Web, Tim-Berners Lee, acknowledges "the Web revolution depended on a much
quieter revolution - the Internet revolution." (Source: interview with
In terms of the Internet's effects on people and on commerce, then, the
real revolution took place in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Now let's
examine Al Gore's legislative record during that time period and see what
role he might have played.
Senator Gore's Activities
An examination of floor speeches, hearings, and other activity by
then-Senator Gore shows an active interest in a broad range of topics. A
search of the Congressional Information Service database reveals examples
A 1983 proposal to build a national computer-based registry of organ donors
and those in need of transplants.
Legislation in 1987 to mandate copy protection mechanisms for Digital Audio
Tape [ironic given the much greater copying problem introduced years later
by the Internet and by Napster].
A 1989 bill, unenacted, "to amend the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978 to
protect the environment of Antarctica."
A 1989 resolution, not passed, to "designate the month of May 1989 as
National Digestive Disease Awareness Month."
A 1989 resolution, not passed, to "urge Noble Commission to consider
awarding Nobel Prize recognition for achievements in preservation of the
A proposed resolution in 1990 calling on the government of Malaysia to
preserve tropical rainforests.
Proposed 1992 legislation, not enacted, that would "stabilize emissions of
carbon dioxide to protect the global climate, and for other purposes."
Various bills over the years supporting funding for NASA.
A resolution to establish the month of October 1989, as Country Music Month
Clearly Gore's legislative activity reflects a broad range of interests.
Not surprisingly, much of his activity centered on the environment. Like
any member of Congress, much of the legislation he proposed was not
enacted, no matter the issue or the merits.
But it is Gore's activity with respect to the Internet that interests us.
His legislative activity demonstrates his interest and involvement in
issues relating to computing and networking; for instance, he co-sponsored
the Computer Abuse Amendments Act of 1990, to complement the Computer
Security and Fraud Act of 1989, which had been used to prosecute Robert
Morris, Jr., the author of the Internet Worm (one of the first widespread
Gore's support for national computer networking initiatives came in a very
different milieu in terms of science funding than one might perceive in the
year 2000. In the 1980s, the United States was worried about its
competitive position internationally, specifically with respect to Japan,
Europe, and Soviet Union. Topics included:
Superconducting magnets (e.g. how to build "mag lev" trains).
What nation would make breakthroughs in particle physics (and whether to
build a superconducting supercollider).
The prospective loss of U.S. dominance in the semiconductor industry.
Basic issues of how science and technology could support a national
While consistently supported funding for agencies involved in science and
technology, such as the National Science Foundation and for NASA, Gore also
began to give speeches and hold hearings in support of high-performance
computing and networking. In 1987, for instance, Gore spoke on the floor in
support of research into superconducting supercomputers:
Mr. President, I rise to discuss the subject of superconductivity and to
make my colleagues aware of dramatic new developments which have been
disclosed in the news media and which have been taking place in the field
of science during the last 6 weeks. Last week in New York City, there was
an unprecedented conference which was described by participants as unlike
anything the field of science had ever seen before. A series of rapid-fire
dramatic new discoveries in the science of superconductivity, which means
the creation of materials which conduct electricity with no resistance
whatsoever, promise to open up tremendous new applications in fields from
electricity transmission to high-speed rail transit to the construction of
appliances and the like. We must have a national response to this new
It's a safe bet that very few members of Congress at the time would have
felt the urge to make this kind of speech. Many may have felt little desire
to listen to it, either. The point, however, is clear: Gore took an active
interest in promoting the United States position in science and technology.
As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space,
Gore held hearings on these issues. During a 1989 hearing colloquy with Dr.
Craig Fields of ARPA and Dr. William Wulf of NSF, Gore solicited
information about what constituted a high-speed network and where
technology was headed. He asked how much sooner NSFnet speed could be
enhanced 30-fold if more Federal funding was provided. During this hearing,
Gore made fun of himself during an exchange about high-speed networking
speeds: "That's all right. I think of my  presidential campaign as a
gigaflop." [The witness had explained that "gigaflop" referred to one
billion floating point operations per second.]
But Gore's interest and support for U.S. high-speed networking begins much
earlier than 1989. As early as 1986, Gore called for, in the context of
funding for the NSF, support for basic research in computer networking:
Mr. President, it gives me great pleasure to support the proposed National
Science Foundation Authorization Act.
MR. PRESIDENT, IT GIVES ME GREAT PLEASURE TO SUPPORT THE PROPOSED NATIONAL
SCIENCE FOUNDATION AUTHORIZATION ACT.
WITHIN THIS BILL I HAVE TWO AMENDMENTS, THE COMPUTER NETWORK STUDY AND THE
GREENHOUSE EFFECT REPORT. THE FIRST AMENDMENT WAS ORIGINALLY INTRODUCED
WITH SENATOR GORTON AS S. 2594. IT CALLS FOR A 2-YEAR STUDY OF THE CRITICAL
PROBLEMS AND CURRENT AND FUTURE OPTIONS REGARDING COMMUNICATIONS NETWORKS
FOR RESEARCH COMPUTERS. THE SECOND AMENDMENT REQUIRES THE PRESIDENT TO
SUBMIT A REPORT TO CONGRESS ON THE ACTIONS TAKEN TO ESTABLISH AN
INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT.
BOTH OF THESE AMENDMENTS SEEK NEW INFORMATION ON CRITICAL PROBLEMS OF
TODAY. THE COMPUTER NETWORK STUDY ACT IS DESIGNED TO ANSWER CRITICAL
QUESTIONS ON THE NEEDS OF COMPUTER TELECOMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS OVER THE NEXT
15 YEARS. FOR EXAMPLE, WHAT ARE THE FUTURE REQUIREMENTS FOR COMPUTERS IN
TERMS OF QUANTITY AND QUALITY OF DATA TRANSMISSION, DATA SECURITY, AND
SOFTWEAR [sic] COMPATIBILITY? WHAT EQUIPMENT MUST BE DEVELOPED TO TAKE
ADVANTAGE OF THE HIGH TRANSMISSION RATES OFFERED BY FIBER OPTIC SYSTEMS?
BOTH SYSTEMS DESIGNED TO HANDLE THE SPECIAL NEEDS OF SUPERCOMPUTERS AND
SYSTEMS DESIGNED TO MEET THE NEEDS OF SMALLER RESEARCH COMPUTERS WILL BE
EVALUATED. THE EMPHASIS IS ON RESEARCH COMPUTERS, BUT THE USERS OF ALL
COMPUTERS WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS STUDY. TODAY, WE CAN BANK BY COMPUTER,
SHOP BY COMPUTER, AND SEND LETTERS BY COMPUTER. ONLY A FEW COMPANIES AND
INDIVIDUALS USE THESE SERVICES, BUT THE NUMBER IS GROWING AND EXISTING
CAPABILITIES ARE LIMITED.
IN ORDER TO COPE WITH THE EXPLOSION OF COMPUTER USE IN THE COUNTRY, WE MUST
LOOK TO NEW WAYS TO ADVANCE THE STATE-OF-THE-ART IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS --
NEW WAYS TO INCREASE THE SPEED AND QUALITY OF THE DATA TRANSMISSION.
WITHOUT THESE IMPROVEMENTS, THE TELECOMMUNICATION NETWORKS FACE DATA
BOTTLENECKS LIKE THOSE WE FACE EVERY DAY ON OUR CROWDED HIGHWAYS.
THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS ALREADY AWARE OF THE NEED TO EVALUATE AND ADOPT NEW
TECHNOLOGIES. ONE PROMISING TECHNOLOGY IS THE DEVELOPMENT OF FIBER OPTIC
SYSTEMS FOR VOICE AND DATA TRANSMISSION. EVENTUALLY WE WILL SEE A SYSTEM OF
FIBER OPTIC SYSTEMS BEING INSTALLED NATIONWIDE.
AMERICA'S HIGHWAYS TRANSPORT PEOPLE AND MATERIALS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
FEDERAL FREEWAYS CONNECT WITH STATE HIGHWAYS WHICH CONNECT IN TURN WITH
COUNTY ROADS AND CITY STREETS. TO TRANSPORT DATA AND IDEAS, WE WILL NEED A
TELECOMMUNICATIONS HIGHWAY CONNECTING USERS COAST TO COAST, STATE TO STATE,
CITY TO CITY. THE STUDY REQUIRED IN THIS AMENDMENT WILL IDENTIFY THE
PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES THE NATION WILL FACE IN ESTABLISHING THAT HIGHWAY.
[Upper case shown, indicating a contemporaneous insertion into the
Congressional Record at the time of corresponding floor debate.]
That Gore wrote about a national "data highway" as far back as 1986 is
extremely significant. It is important to make clear the context of the
state of computing at that time. The IBM PC was only four years old. The
Apple II computer was still in widespread use. The number of hosts on the
Internet numbered, as counted by Mark Lottor's Internet Domain Survey, was
5,089. Entire universities (such as Michigan State University) made their
initial connection to the Internet in 1986. In order for Gore to make this
kind of speech in 1986, he had to have been conversant with the thinking of
computer scientists and Internet pioneers. Such pioneers included such as
Vint Cerf, Steven Wolf, and Larry Smarr - then director of the National
Center for Supercomputer Applications at the University of Illinois (NCSA),
where Mosaic would be born some seven years later.
In 1988, Gore argued for the creation of a high-capacity national data
THIS LEGISLATION TAKES THE FIRST CRITICAL STEPS TO ADDRESS THOROUGHLY THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S ROLE IN PROMOTING HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPUTING. OVER THE
NEXT SEVERAL MONTHS, WE CAN REFINE THIS LEGISLATION. BUT WE MUST ACT. THE
UNITED STATES HAS MAYBE A 1-YEAR LEAD OVER OUR CLOSEST COMPETITORS IN THE
HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPUTING FIELD. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO HESITATE IN CRAFTING
A BLUEPRINT TO ENSURE THAT LEAD FOR THE [*S16898] NEXT DOZEN YEARS OF THIS
CENTURY AND TO POSITION OURSELVES FOR THE NEXT CENTURY. REPRESENTATIVES
FROM INDUSTRY, ACADEMIA, AND FEDERAL AGENCIES SHOULD DISCUSS WHAT NEEDS TO
BE DONE, USING THIS BILL AS A FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION.
THE NATIONAL HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY ACT OF 1988 WOULD EXPAND
AND IMPROVE FEDERAL SUPPORT FOR RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND THE APPLICATION
OF HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY. SPECIFICALLY, THIS ACT WOULD
ESTABLISH A HIGH-CAPACITY NATIONAL RESEARCH COMPUTER NETWORK, DEVELOP AND
DISTRIBUTE SOFTWARE, DEVELOP ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PROGRAMS, STIMULATE
THE DEVELOPMENT OF HARDWARE, AND INVEST IN BASIC RESEARCH AND EDUCATION.
THE ACT WOULD DEFINE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S ROLE IN HIGH-PERFORMANCE
COMPUTING. THE ACT WOULD PROVIDE FOR A 3-GIGABIT-PER-SECOND NATIONAL
NETWORK, DEVELOP FEDERAL STANDARDS, TAKE INTO ACCOUNT USER VIEWS, EXAMINE
TELECOMMUNICATIONS POLICY, BUILD AN INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE COMPOSED OF
DATA BASES AND KNOWLEDGE BANKS, CREATE A NATIONAL SOFTWARE CORPORATION TO
DEVELOP IMPORTANT SOFTWARE PROGRAMS, ESTABLISH A CLEARINGHOUSE TO VALIDATE
AND DISTRIBUTE SOFTWARE, PROMOTE ARTICIFIAL INTELLIGENCE DATA BASES,
INCREASE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS, STUDY EXPORT CONTROLS AFFECTING
COMPUTERS, REVIEW PROCUREMENT POLICIES TO STIMULATE THE COMPUTER INDUSTRY,
AND ENHANCE COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION PROGRAMS. IT ALSO CLEARLY DEFINES
AGENCY MISSIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES WITH RESPECT TO HIGH-PERFORMANCE
Gore made explicit the need for high-speed networking, specifically a
3-gigabit per second national network. In 1989 floor debate Gore continued
his support for federally funded research in high-performance computing and
networking. His words presage the Internet as we know it today:
Well, we could do more and we should be doing more. I'd take a slightly
different view of this question. I agree totally with those who say,
education is the key to it. But I genuinely believe that the creation of
this nationwide network and the broader installation of lower capacity
fiber optic cables to all parts of this country, will create an environment
where work stations are common in homes and even small businesses with
access to supercomputing capability being very, very widespread. It's sort
of like, once the interstate highway system existed, then a college student
in California who lived in North Carolina would be more likely to buy a
car, drive back and forth instead of taking the bus. Once that network for
supercomputing is in place, you're going to have a lot more people gaining
access to the capability, developing an interest in it. That will lead to
more people getting training and more purchases of machines.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the term "information superhighway"
became a sort of mantra in Gore's speeches. Some observers, in fact, credit
Gore with coining that very term. Actually, for Senator Gore to seek to
build a national data network analogous to the interstate highway system
should not surprise us; his father, Al Gore Sr., as a senator in the 1950s
was a major proponent of the creation of the Interstate Highway System,
modeled after the German autobahns. No doubt Gore Jr. was inspired by the
model and metaphor of his father's efforts. Gore Jr.'s remarks in 1989
reflect this throwback to Gore pere's earlier role:
THREE YEARS AGO, ON THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM,
I SPONSORED THE SUPERCOMPUTER NETWORK STUDY ACT TO EXPLORE A FIBER OPTIC
NETWORK TO LINK THE NATION'S SUPERCOMPUTERS INTO ONE SYSTEM. HIGH-CAPACITY
FIBER OPTIC NETWORKS WILL BE THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAYS OF TOMORROW. A
NATIONAL NETWORK WITH ASSOCIATED SUPERCOMPUTERS AND DATA BASES WILL LINK
ACADEMIC RESEARCHERS AND INDUSTRY IN A NATIONAL COLABORATORY. THIS
INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE WILL CLUSTER RESEARCH CENTERS AND BUSINESSES
AROUND NETWORK INTERCHANGES, USING THE NATION'S VAST DATA BANKS AS THE
BUILDING BLOCKS FOR INCREASING INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTIVITY, CREATING NEW
PRODUCTS, AND IMPROVING ACCESS TO EDUCATION. LIBRARIES, RURAL SCHOOLS,
MINORITY INSTITUTIONS, AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS WILL HAVE ACCESS
TO THE SAME NATIONAL RESOURCES -- DATA BASES, SUPERCOMPUTERS, ACCELERATORS
-- AS MORE AFFLUENT AND BETTER KNOWN INSTITUTIONS.
CAN WE RELY ON THE MARKET SYSTEM TO PROVIDE THIS KIND OF INFRASTRUCTURE? WE
CERTAINLY COULDN'T WHERE THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM WAS CONCERNED,
ALTHOUGH PRIVATE INDUSTRY ULTIMATELY BENEFITED A GREAT DEAL FROM THE
GOVERNMENT'S LEADERSHIP AND INVESTMENT. I BELIEVE THAT THE FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT MUST AGAIN BE A CATALYST, TO GET COMPANIES INTERESTED IN THOSE
INFORMATION NETWORKS AND SHOW THEM THAT THERE IS A MARKET OUT THERE.
CLEARLY, THE TECHNOLOGICAL SPINOFFS AND PRODUCTIVITY GAINS WOULD BE
ENORMOUS, FROM A NETWORK THAT WOULD COST THE GOVERNMENT LESS THAN ONE
Although the press took relatively little note of Gore's speeches,
hearings, and proposed legislation on national networking, some coverage
did appear. John Markoff wrote for the December 29, 1988 edition of the New
Computer scientists and Government officials are urging the creation of a
nationwide "data superhighway" that they believe would have a dramatic
economic impact, rivaling that of the nation's interstate highway system.
This highway would consist of a high-speed fiber-optic data network joining
dozens of supercomputers at national laboratories and making them available
to thousands of academic and industry researchers around the country ...
Legislation introduced in October by Senator Albert Gore, Democrat of
Tennessee, included initial financing for development and construction of a
National Research Network. Backers of the measure say that Federal
financing for the project is necessary to develop the technology and
convince industry that vastly speedier computer networks are commercially
Gore's efforts in the mid to late 1980s to promote national networking
initiatives eventually paid off, when the High Performance Computing Act of
1991 was passed by both houses of Congress. The Houston Chronicle ran an
article under the headline "Data superhighway' for nation's computers
approved by Congress" on November 30, 1991, crediting Gore's role:
A plan to create a high-tech "data superhighway" likened in importance to
the creation of the nation's highway system has been approved by Congress
and sent to President Bush for his signature.
The plan would create a high-speed national computer networking
infrastructure that would link computers in the nation's research,
education and military establishments.
Proponents say that this network eventually will evolve into a universally
available National Public Telecomputing Network that may be the successor
to the telephone system, marrying the entertainment, communications and
The High-Performance Computing Act of 1991, which contains the plan, was
approved by a House-Senate conference committee over the weekend after
being stalled for several weeks because of disagreement over a "buy
American first" provision.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Albert Gore, D-Tenn., does not provide funding
for the effort. Budget allocations and appropriations must be made
individually during each year of the program.
No less an authority than Vint Cerf, inventor of the Internet Protocol, has
gone on record confirming Gore's role in U.S. Internet development. On June
14, 2000, Time Magazine hosted a live Internet forum with Cerf. The
(anonymous) moderator joined his journalistic wisecrackers by invoking
Gore's Internet inventor "claim." Cerf abstained from the frivolity:
Timehost: Welcome to the TIME auditorium. We're thrilled to have as our
guest Vinton Cerf, one of the inventors of the Internet. Mr. Cerf has just
written an article for TIME magazine, in which he says that the Internet
will be everywhere. Even, literally, in our bodies! So send in your
questions about the past, present and future of the Internet. Who better to
answer those questions than the man who invented the Internet? (Sorry, Al
Timehost: Mr. Cerf is now with us. Welcome!
Vinton Cerf: Good evening, or whatever time zone you are in, hi!! While
we're waiting for questions, I'd like to clear up one little item - about
the Vice President ... He really does deserve some credit for his early
recognition of the importance of the Internet and the technology that makes
it work. He was certainly among the first if not the first in Congress to
realize how powerful the information revolution would be and both as
Senator and Vice President he has been enormously helpful in supporting
legislation and programs to help further develop the Internet - for example
the Next Generation Internet program. I get to see a lot of this stuff
because I am a member of the President's Information Technology Advisory
Committee and we regularly review the R&D programs of the US Government and
many have relevance to the evolving Internet.
On September 28, 2000, Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf released a statement to key
Internet mailing lists stating their unequivocal belief that Gore played an
important role during his congressional years in supporting the Internet:
I am taking the liberty of sending to you both a brief summary of Al Gore's
Internet involvement, prepared by Bob Kahn and me. As you know, there have
been a seemingly unending series of jokes chiding the vice president for
his assertion that he "took the initiative in creating the Internet."
Bob and I believe that the vice president deserves significant credit for
his early recognition of the importance of what has become the Internet.
I thought you might find this short summary of sufficient interest to share
it with Politech and the IP lists, respectively.
Al Gore and the Internet
By Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf
Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the
Internet and to promote and support its development.
No one person or even small group of persons exclusively "invented" the
Internet. It is the result of many years of ongoing collaboration among
people in government and the university community. But as the two people
who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the
Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a
Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to
our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time.
Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his role.
He said: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the
initiative in creating the Internet." We don't think, as some people have
argued, that Gore intended to claim he "invented" the Internet. Moreover,
there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's
initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving
Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and
promoting the Internet long before most people were listening. We feel it
is timely to offer our perspective.
As far back as the 1970s Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high speed
telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the
improvement of our educational system. He was the first elected official to
grasp the potential of computer communications to have a broader impact
than just improving the conduct of science and scholarship. Though easily
forgotten, now, at the time this was an unproven and controversial concept.
Our work on the Internet started in 1973 and was based on even earlier work
that took place in the mid-late 1960s. But the Internet, as we know it
today, was not deployed until 1983. When the Internet was still in the
early stages of its deployment, Congressman Gore provided intellectual
leadership by helping create the vision of the potential benefits of high
speed computing and communication. As an example, he sponsored hearings on
how advanced technologies might be put to use in areas like coordinating
the response of government agencies to natural disasters and other crises.
As a Senator in the 1980s Gore urged government agencies to consolidate
what at the time were several dozen different and unconnected networks into
an "Interagency Network." Working in a bi-partisan manner with officials in
Ronald Reagan and George Bush's administrations, Gore secured the passage
of the High Performance Computing and Communications Act in 1991. This
"Gore Act" supported the National Research and Education Network (NREN)
initiative that became one of the major vehicles for the spread of the
Internet beyond the field of computer science.
As Vice President Gore promoted building the Internet both up and out, as
well as releasing the Internet from the control of the government agencies
that spawned it. He served as the major administration proponent for
continued investment in advanced computing and networking and private
sector initiatives such as Net Day. He was and is a strong proponent of
extending access to the network to schools and libraries. Today,
approximately 95% of our nation's schools are on the Internet. Gore
provided much-needed political support for the speedy privatization of the
Internet when the time arrived for it to become a commercially-driven
There are many factors that have contributed to the Internet's rapid growth
since the later 1980s, not the least of which has been political support
for its privatization and continued support for research in advanced
networking technology. No one in public life has been more intellectually
engaged in helping to create the climate for a thriving Internet than the
Vice President. Gore has been a clear champion of this effort, both in the
councils of government and with the public at large.
The Vice President deserves credit for his early recognition of high speed
computing and communication and for his long-term and consistent
articulation of the potential value of the Internet to American citizens
and industry and, indeed, to the rest of the world.
Gore Is Not Alone
Unfortunately, our penchant for drawing deep conclusions about the
character of national leaders based on a spontaneous, in-the-moment,
reaction, later oft-repeated but seldom presented in context, is not
limited to Mr. Gore. In 1992, President Bush visited a trade show where
state-of-the-art grocery store equipment was being demonstrated. The pool
reporter assigned to cover the event, Andrew Rosenthal of the New York
Times, wrote a short article describing Bush's astonishment at the
technology of a grocery scanner. Rosenthal's resulting piece portrayed Bush
as being surprised at supermarket UPC bar code scanning technology, which
was old hat by 1992 and quite familiar to the voting public.
Once the story was out, the die was cast: as far as casual commentators and
the general public were concerned, George Bush was a patrician President
out of touch with the lives of everyday Americans. At that time, and since
that time, Bush's press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, has protested
vehemently that Rosenthal completely misinterpreted the situation - that
Bush had long since known what a grocery store UPC scanner was, but that he
was merely politely acknowledging the sales pitch of an NCR official. On
November 5, 1995, Fitzwater detailed his complaint on C-Span's "Booknotes"
FITZWATER: Well, President Bush during the 1992 campaign went to a
convention in Florida of grocery manufacturers, and before the speech, he
was being shown some demonstrations and displays, and he walked up to a new
checkout scanner that was being displayed by National Cash Register
Company, and the fellow who was at the cash register says, "This is our
latest thing. This can do everything but slice bread, and it reads credit
cards, and does billing, and everything." And that fellow - the cash
register guy - said, "That's amazing!" And President Bush, to be gracious,
said, "Yes, it is amazing." And we just kind of withdrew away. Nobody paid
much attention to it. And then later on, when the President was asked about
the technology, he said, "I saw some amazing technology on the cash
register." And Andy wrote up the story as if the President was so out of
touch with American life that he'd never seen a cash register - a
supermarket scanner - before. And it was one of those kind of tragic
situations where we could never catch up with the story.
And it painted the President as being out of touch, and I think it was also
interesting that - you know, in a sense, it touched on a truth - which is
why this story had so many legs - in that we were out of touch on the
economy. We really didn't know where the American people were hurting and
how they were reacting to economic problems at that time. The problem was
the President wasn't awed by this scanner. It wasn't really true. He hadn't
expressed his amazement over something he had never seen before, and it
wasn't a case that he'd never been in a grocery store before. So it was a
case of where the story that Andy wrote - which was from a pool reporter,
really - was not true or accurate in the sense of what the President did.
Note Fitzwater's point: that "we never could catch up to the story." Once
the punditry and the comediocracy have latched onto a theme, it is
impossible for facts to intercede.
If Fitzwater has his facts straight, the supermarket scanner story is quite
similar to Gore's situation: through distortion of the candidate's
statement, and repetition and magnification of the distortion, the public's
judgment of the candidate is materially affected. In both cases, it is
unfair to the candidate to be judged on the basis of an off-the-cuff
comment, misquoted, misinterpreted, and magnified through repetition and
ridicule by those who neither know nor care what was said - or the context
in which it was said. The entire process is also a disservice to the
William Safire, writing in his political column for the New York Times on
September 14, 2000, derided the "snickering campaign" - the modern
phenomenon whereby Saturday Night Live transformed Gerald Ford into a
bumbling fool thanks to repetitive Chevy Chase routines and George W. Bush
is painted as illiterate due to the repeated ridicule of his
mispronunciation of "subliminal."
Why This Matters
Any fair review of the legislative record makes it clear that Senator Gore
was an early and forceful advocate for high-speed national networks, and
that he understood how this vision could lead to widespread benefits for
the citizenry and for commerce in the United States.
No doubt that record is what he sought to convey in his answer to Blitzer.
If Al Gore had chosen a slightly different formulation for his
extemporaneous statement, none of this discussion would have ensued. For
instance, this statement might have avoided the repetition and ridicule:
While I was serving in the Senate, I took the initiative in supporting the
basic research necessary to create the Internet as we know it today.
But Gore - and the nation - are stuck with the words he chose and the
reaction that followed. Gore's slight misstatement, and its subsequent
magnification, distortion, and frequent repetition, stymie Gore in any
attempt he might want to make to use his record on Internet issues during
the current campaign. He simply can't raise the subject in a serious way.
He is reduced to joining in the joking himself. This citizenry is thus
deprived of any serious discourse in the 2000 Presidential campaign
relating to Internet issues. In point of fact, serious issues remain as to
the proper role of government and the Internet. These include:
Internet taxation: Is the moratorium on Internet taxation justified? George
W. Bush, as a sitting governor, might have an interesting perspective on
this issue, given the important of sales taxes to most states' budgets.
Media and distribution amalgamation: is the AOL/Time-Warner merger (and
others sure to follow) a threat to free and equal access to Internet content?
Pornography and filtering: how can the nation provide the control over
access to erotic content that parents desire in a way that does not offend
the First Amendment or children's need to access medical and scientific
The role of government in fostering continued United States leadership in
Internet and information technologies: The Internet was the fruit of United
States government investment, by ARPA, the NSF, and other agencies. At this
point in Internet history, what role remains for government investment in
The "digital divide." Is it the responsibility of government to assure a
minimum level of basic access to the Internet for all citizens? How much
money should be budgeted for this effort? Is the "E-rate" the correct
mechanism for achieving universal access?
Civil liberties: How can law enforcement be given the access to evidence it
needs to apprehend and prosecute criminals in a way that does not threaten
basic constitutional rights? Is the FBI "Carnivore" program justified?
E-government: how can government transform itself into a provider of
services as efficient as an Amazon.com?
One could imagine an entire Presidential debate dealing with these issues,
along with the broader subject of the role of government in the information
age. Alas, this is not to be. If the Internet is raised as a topic in any
of the debates during this campaign, it is likely to be a prepared zinger
that Bush unleashes - perhaps to deflect attention from one of his own
shortcomings. If this happens, once again the easy laugh will triumph over
Too many media personalities share a yen for the cheap laugh; too many Jay
Lenos and Tony Snows and Cokie & Steve Robertses have the microphone. These
comedians and pundits will choose the easy laugh or the facile debating
point every time - even if it cheapens the discourse of the political
campaign. For them, the goal is the laugh or the superficial - even
infantile - theme for a television bit or a syndicated print piece. Their
goal is not illuminating the issues of the day, or the candidates' thinking
about those issues; the goal is elevating the comedian or journalist by
ridiculing the candidate. Over time, the cumulative effect of all the Gore
Internet jokes is a diminution of the quality of real debate in the real
The public at large is also not innocent in this process. Too many voters
are satisfied with sound bite character assessment - and sound bite
character assassination. Citizens should demand more of their journalists -
and more of themselves - in assessing those who would lead the country.
Wolf Blitzer himself reports an ironic twist in the superficial manner in
which media portrayals define a candidate: his own daughter told him, "I'm
gonna vote for Gore ... Because he was cool on the Tonight Show." Wolf
Blitzer concludes: "There's no doubt that all of this comedy has an impact.
Elections are won and lost on public perception in that kind of popular
culture." Leno giveth, and Leno taketh away. (Source: "The Stiff Guy vs.
the Dumb Guy," by Marshall Sella, the New York Times Magazine, September
24, 2000. [This article analyzes the interplay of politics and late-night
comedy. Sella concludes that due to the liberal bias of comedians and
comedy writers, the ultimate effect of the genre obtains to the benefit of
liberal candidates. Such analysis is beyond the scope of this article.])
From all evidence, Jay Leno is a decent person - a truly nice guy, who,
based on his "Jay Walking" segments, is pained by the sorry state of basic
knowledge exhibited by the average person on the street in this country.
Far be it from me to suggest that Jay Leno is unpatriotic, but every time
he repeats a Gore Internet joke, he is dumbing down the Presidential
campaign one more notch. Does the nation really want Jay Leno and his
comrades to define the level of political discourse in the United States?
In the spirit of fairness, don't the candidates deserve better? In the
spirit of democracy, doesn't the nation deserve better?
About the Author
Richard Wiggins is an author and speaker specializing in Internet topics.
He has presented at numerous conferences nationally and internationally.
Wiggins co-hosts a television program, North Coast Digital. He discusses
computers and Internet topics monthly on WKAR-AM / wkar.org, National
Public Radio for mid-Michigan. He is writing a book, A Guide to the
Literature of the Internet (Libraries Unlimited, forthcoming). Wiggins
currently serves as a senior information technologist in the Computer
Laboratory at Michigan State University.
Editorial history Paper received 30 September 2000; accepted 30 September 2000; revision received 1 October 2000.
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Al Gore and the Creation of the Internet by Richard Wiggins First Monday, volume 5, number 10 (October 2000), URL: http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_10/wiggins/index.html
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