Science and technology exposed
Is Tim Berners-Lee the man who invented the Internet? updated 25 04 2016
The world in which we live is a very strange place. When we are told by those who claim to know that a thing works in a certain way, and we do a little research and find that it works in a completely different way, we start to wonder ‘what is going on’? Publicly, Tim Berners-Lee appears shy and reluctant, like a man uncomfortable in his own skin. When asked about events at CERN he rattles off words in a staccato-style as if he doesn’t really want anyone to hear them. He gives the impression of a man under constant pressure and lately he’s telling us to take back the Internet. He’s calling for an online “Magna Carta” no less, according to The Guardian “to protect and enshrine the independence of the medium he created and the rights of its users worldwide”. But The Guardian also tells us that: “Despite plenty of scaremongering, there are reasons to be worried about the emergence of a hyper-connected world.” The newspapers must be seen to be reinforcing the establishment view that the Internet is a bad place to be and therefore needs to be controlled by the establishment.
The real problem is Internet insecurity, the fact that not just the NSA and GCHQ are watching everything we do, but anyone who fancies themselves to be a hacker can download the software to do the same thing. Where do you suppose the security services got their own spying software? But the security services don’t want us to secure our computers because it stops them spying on us. I doubt that many understand the paradox and what’s really going on, least of all the tabloids.
The Internet cannot be said to have been invented by any single individual, it evolved along with the available technology. There is the usual academic exaggeration of achievement and I hope the reader can ignore it whilst reading this page? The Internet arose from the telephone networking system already in place and already using such things as Fax and Teleprinters to exchange information and much of the early Internet technology was thanks to teleprinter technology. The first publicly available Internet was based on the systems at this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleprinter
So, Is Tim Berners-Lee really the man who invented the Internet?
Wiki, always the one to support establishment science, answers and tells us that: “Professor Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, FRSA, DFBCS (born 8 June 1955), also known as TimBL, is an English computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. He made a proposal for an information management system in March 1989, and he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet sometime around mid-November of that same year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berners-Lee
Encyclopædia Britannica says the same thing. It’s all lies!
Not everyone agrees and if we look at the same question at ‘about.com’ we find: “No, Tim Berners-Lee did not invent the Internet. The Internet was created in the late 1960’s as a collaborative effort between several universities and the U.S. Department of Defense (ARPANET).
At’articles.latimes.com we read: “Tim Berners-Lee used the already existing Internet as the foundation for how the World Wide Web would function. For more on the early days of the Internet, read ‘The History of the Internet’… Bob Taylor was the single most important figure in the history of the Internet, and he holds that stature because of his government role. Crovitz then points out that TCP/IP, the fundamental communications protocol of the Internet, was invented by Vinton Cerf (though he fails to mention Cerf’s partner, Robert Kahn). He points out that Tim Berners-Lee “gets credit for hyperlinks.” http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jul/23/news/la-mo-who-invented-internet-20120723
Clearly people are not happy with the answers!
OK, so, how does Tim the software consultant become Professor Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, FRSA, DFBCS, when there are literally dozens of Internet pioneers to choose from?
To answer this question it must first be understood that science (here in the guise of physics at CERN) needs heroes. It needs them because generally useful technologies arising from modern physics are so hard to find; some say impossible. It needs them because so many of the computer pioneers were not academics but often intuitives, and science thinks that if it gives all the credit to a scientist everyone will believe it and it has control of computers – it will appear that the academics are the authority on the subject. The same thing was done to Alan Turing, (see part 1) it’s a kind of identity theft where science builds an overblown reputation upon some unsuspecting sucker for the ultimate purpose of enhancing the reputation of science – ‘technology is thanks to academic science’. Hence we have statements like “The Internet was invented at CERN”. It leads people to believe that physicists invented the Internet.
Honorary degrees were created for the same purpose, to bring productive non-scientific minds into the scientific fold by giving them a doctorate, it is then assumed that they are academics. Many believe it even though it’s completely untrue, it’s all about control. I’m not sure if Lee knows his identity has been stolen but he keeps on making statements like the ones at the top of the page – so I think he knows.
Wiki informs us: Berners-Lee worked as an independent contractor at CERN from June to December 1980. While in Geneva, he proposed a project based on the concept of hypertext, to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers. To demonstrate it, he built a prototype system named ENQUIRE.
After leaving CERN in late 1980, he went to work at John Poole’s Image Computer Systems, Ltd, in Bournemouth, Dorset. He ran the company’s technical side for three years. The project he worked on was a “real-time remote procedure call” which gave him experience in computer networking. In 1984, he returned to CERN as a fellow. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berners-Lee
What is a fellowship?
wisegeek.org: A fellowship can have several different definitions, depending upon the extent, what it offers, and what it requires. Most often, they are monetary awards — scholarships — connected to working in a specific field, usually at the graduate or post-graduate level. While former or continuing graduate students complete extra training in a field, or have funding to continue research, they usually receive a stipend, slightly above living wage, from either a private or public institution. This allows them to complete their training, internship or research without having to devote time to working outside their field, or to resorting to additional loans for support.
Berners-Lee is an Oxford graduate with a first-class degree in physics that he never used, and he was in the right place at the right time – that’s not to say he actually had to do anything himself. Because he was a child of scientific method, he became the obvious candidate for academic sanctification. Lee is not a genius, he didn’t invent anything, didn’t publish any equations or write any world shattering programs as we see below. He used someone else’s programming and existing software to become, According to CERN’s own website: “The British scientist at CERN, (who) invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989”. http://home.web.cern.ch/about/birth-w
∗He was not a scientist as suggested, as to be a scientist he would have had to work as a physicist at CERN and he never did.
*He was not a computer scientist.
∗He didn’t invent anything because all the technology was available.
For those who don’t know what CERN does, and that is most of us, it’s a cathedral-like hole in the ground built for the glorification of the subterranean god of science. It has absolutely no generally useful, practical application and it will not improve the life of a single person unless they happen to be a CERN physicist or Tim Berners-Lee.
Back to Wiki and Berners-Lee mythology: “By Christmas 1990, Berners-Lee had built all the tools necessary for a working Web: the first web browser (which was a web editor as well); the first web server; and the first web pages, which described the project itself. On 6 August 1991, he posted a short summary of the World Wide Web project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup.” (The newsgroup was Usenet for those who think there was no Internet b.L. (before Lee).
( Note: Some of this stuff has been changed on Wiki since first writing)
We find under the Wiki heading ‘HTML’ (and Wiki often contradicts itself) that: “Berners-Lee wrote a memo proposing an Internet-based hypertext system. Berners-Lee specified HTML and wrote the browser and server software in the last part of 1990. Berners-Lee and CERN data systems engineer Robert Cailliau collaborated on a joint request for funding, but the project was not formally adopted by CERN.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML
But then Wiki changes its mind about the date: The browser was “ENQUIRE” a software project written in 1980 by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, which was the predecessor to the World Wide Web. It was a simple hypertext program that had some of the same ideas as the Web and the Semantic Web but was different in several important ways… (The Semantic Web and ENQUIRE do not exist)
…Further development stopped because Berners-Lee gave the ENQUIRE disc to Robert Cailliau, (his boss at CERN) who had been working under Brian Carpenter before he left CERN. Carpenter suspects that the disc was reused for other purposes since nobody was later available to do further work on ENQUIRE.” (It was deleted)
Click for a short but more accurate history of hypertext
According to Wiki: “ENQUIRE was similar to Apple’s HyperCard which also lacked clickable text and was not “hypertext”, but ENQUIRE lacked an image rendering system, (as did Nicola Pellow’s (“basic”) browser see below).” The question surely has to be asked at this point: If neither ENQUIRE nor Apple’s HyperCard had hypertext, by whom and when was hypertext added to WWW? There is no information on the subject and I’m sure we would all like to know, as hypertext was what it was supposed to be all about.
Needless to say, ENQUIRE was deleted never to be seen again and we will never know anything about Berners-Lee’s personal programming skills or how it worked. Wiki seems to think that ENQUIRE was similar to Apple’s HyperCard (that did work except for the hypertext) but the Wiki Hypercard page is gobbledegook.
There is a very good description of HyperCard here for anyone curious about what Lee was up-to: 25 years of HyperCard—the missing link to the Web
Before the World Wide Web did anything, HyperCard did everything.
We note that after 25 years Apple still don’t know what to do with it.
An interesting aside is that HyperCard seems to have been installed on Berners-Lee’s CERN computer, the Apple NeXTStep. A PC ten years in advance of other PC’s of the time, its operating system was copied and became the template for Microsoft Windows. Very few NeXTStep were sold because it was so expensive. See also: https://en.wikipedia./wiki/Spinning_pinwheel
Wiki: Almost immediately after Berners-Lee completed the WorldWideWeb web browser for the NeXT platform, (that was unsuitable because it only worked with Apple NeXT operating systems) Pellow wrote a generic Line Mode Browser called WWW that could run on non-NeXT systems. The WWW team ported the browser to a range of computers, from Unix to Microsoft DOS, (and teletype machines) so that anyone could access the web, which at that point consisted primarily of the CERN phone book. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicola_Pellow
Who is Nicola Pellow?
The the job of creating the WWW browser was given to Nicola Pellow, a math’ student who was doing a work experience placement at CERN. She wrote the program for the first “working” HTML universal browser WWW and her name should be up in lights, but it’s not, because Berners-Lee’s name is up in lights. (Are we to assume that it was Nicola Pellow who programmed the WWW HTML and not Lee?
livinginternet.com: “Nicola Pellow was a member of the WWW Project at CERN, working with Tim Berners-Lee. She joined the project in November 1990, while an undergraduate math student at Leicester Polytechnic (now De Montfort University).
(Shock – horror, it was Nicola Pellow who ‘invented’ (programmed) the www and HTML and not Berners-Lee.)
livinginternet.com: She left CERN at the end of August 1991, but returned after graduating in 1992, and worked with Robert Cailliau on MacWWW, the first web browser for Mac OS Line-mode. Nicola Pellow, a math student interning at CERN, wrote a line-mode web browser that would work on any device, even a teletype. In 1991, Nicola and the team ported the browser to a range of computers, from Unix to Microsoft DOS, so that anyone could access the web, at that point consisting primarily of the CERN phone book.” http://www.livinginternet.com/w/wi_browse.htm
It’s difficult to find anything world shattering that can be attributed to Berners-Lee and yet he is seen as the ultimate computer know-it-all, like Spock of Star Trek whom when asked what he knew about computers replied “I know ALL about computers”. I’ve looked at this from an academic view-point and I find that to be a know all about computers would require something like twelve or more degrees in computer science; I’m not aware that Berners-Lee had any. However, we do find people like college drop-out Steve Wozniak who designed and built the Apple PC from intuition and not as a result of his education.
Wiki “Line Mode Browser”: (damning Pellow with faint praise) The team recruited Nicola Pellow, a math student intern working at CERN, to write a “passive browser” so basic that it could run on most computers of that time. The name “Line Mode Browser” refers to the fact that, to ensure compatibility with the earliest computer terminals such as teletype machines, the program only displayed text, (no images) and had only text input. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_Mode_Browser – It was so basic that it worked when Berners-Lee’s did not work and it got WWW truly online for the first time. It is those such as Pellow and Wozniak who should be given the highest honours.
Line Mode Browser
What many don’t realise today is that computer communications evolved directly from the teletype machine so says wow.com/wiki: The name “Line Mode Browser” refers to the fact that, to ensure compatibility with the earliest computer terminals such as Teletype machines, the program only displayed text, (no images) and had only text input. http://www.wow.com/wiki/Line_Mode_Browser
A misunderstanding occurs when referring to Pellow’s browser as basic or simple and the meaning is, simply, that it was compatible with teletype machines.
Wiki: Hard-copy terminals
Early user terminals connected to computers were electromechanical teleprinters/teletypewriters (TeleTYpewriter, TTY), such as the Teletype Model 33 ASR, originally used for telegraphy or the Friden Flexowriter. Later printing terminals such as the DECwriter were developed. However printing terminals were limited by the speed at which paper could be printed, and for interactive use the paper record was unnecessary… Early video computer displays were sometimes nicknamed “Glass TTYs” (“glass Teletypes”) or “Visual Display Units” (VDUs), and used individual logic gates, with no CPU or very primitive LSI chips, yet quickly became extremely popular Input-Output devices on many different types of computer system once several suppliers gravitated to a set of common standards: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_terminal
There is an interesting video here: Accessing the line mode browser with 1960s tech: http://first-website.web.cern.ch/blog/accessing-line-mode-browser-1960s-tech
And who is Louise Addis?
Wiki: “Paul Kunz from the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center visited CERN in September 1991, and was captivated by the Web. He brought the NeXT software back to SLAC, where librarian Louise Addis adapted it for the VM/CMS operating system on the IBM mainframe as a way to display SLACs catalog of online documents; this was the first (HTML) web server outside of Europe and the first in North America” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Web
We have two examples here of physicists recruiting unknown and unsung women to do their programming.
This reminds us of Ada Lovelace who was the first programmer – History Repeats Itself and would you believe it? en.wiki: “Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 27 November 1852), born Augusta Ada Byron (daughter of Lord Byron) and now commonly known as Ada Lovelace, was an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work with Charles Babbage on the early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognized as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. Because of this, she is often considered the world’s first computer programmer.”
“Hypertext (hyperlinks) is a software system that links topics on the screen to related information and graphics.” Dictionary.com
A Hyperlink looks like this.
en.wiki: “The term “hyperlink” was coined in 1965 (or possibly 1964) by Ted Nelson at the start
of Project Xanadu. Nelson had been inspired by “As We May Think”, a popular 1945 essay by Vannevar Bush.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperlink
(Ted Nelson’s hyperlinks dream never came to fruition)
en.wiki: “Meanwhile, working independently, a team led by Douglas Engelbart (with Jeff Rulifson as chief programmer) was the first to implement the hyperlink concept for scrolling within a single document (1966), and soon after for connecting between paragraphs within separate documents (1968), with NLS. Ben Shneiderman working with graduate student Dan Ostroff designed and implemented the highlighted link in the HyperTIES system in 1983. HyperTIES was used to produce the world’s first electronic journal, the July 1988 Communications of ACM, which was cited as the source for the link concept in Tim Berners-Lee’s Spring 1989 manifesto for the Web. In 1988, Ben Shneiderman and Greg Kearsley used HyperTIES to publish “Hypertext Hands-On!”, the world’s first electronic book.”
Much of this happened when Berners-Lee was ten years old.
Hyperties and Hyperties Browser
en.wiki: The Interactive Encyclopedia System, or TIES, was a hypertext system developed at the University of Maryland, College Park by Ben Shneiderman in 1983. The earliest versions of TIES ran in DOS text mode, using the cursor arrow keys for navigating through information. A later version of HyperTIES for the Sun workstation was developed using the NeWS window system, with an authoring tool based on UniPress’s Gosling Emacs text editor.
This is identical to the browser (WWW) that Berners-Lee loaded onto the CERN system.
BT goes to court over hyperlink “invention”
wired.com: “BT’s (BT Group plc) claim is a real stretch but it’s a fact that you can’t have a hyperlink without Bemer’s slash,” said Adam Kaplan, an open source programmer and law student. “Bemer’s altruism may help to establish the fact that hyperlinks are the work of many programmers who for good reasons didn’t choose to claim ownership of their particular piece of code or idea.” http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2002/02/50398?currentPage=all
Edward Snowden speaks at TED with a guest appearance from Tim Berners-Lee