The whole brouhaha about the origins of the Internet occurred a few weeks ago. I have nothing technical to add to that debate. Except that Obama as usual was wrong.
I used what is now called the Internet from day one and I have the perspective of a consumer.
I used computers from 1960 on. I use them for statistical research, marketing research and tabulating survey data.
My first use of a terminal connected by phone to a DARPA computer was in 1971. I began using a terminal and a phone modem to connect to the SPIRES computer at Stanford. I put my entire written book, The Seven Laws of Money on the SPIRES computer in 1973. It was uploaded to a typographer in Reno that year. From my perspective, dial-up modem connections to computers were a fact of life. We were using land lines, voice lines. The Stanford computer allowed me to use several other computers in the United States. I regularly used the computer in New Jersey, NJIT.
When I traveled to Japan I took a portable teletype machine (about 15 lbs) with voice modem built-in. I communicated with my office in San Francisco by international voice telephone line. My office had a dumb terminal and voice modem. By 1981 I got a dumb terminal and modem for my father, but he never used it.
I upgraded my teletype to several other terminals and by the late 1970s I had a Kaypro semi portable computer (25 lbs). Shortly after getting the Kaypro, which still used a voice modem, I was among the very first to join the Well. This was roughly 1980. The Well was one of the first two ISPs.
I was so excited about the Well and the online conferences that I created a business called CLOUD. CLOUD was announced at a gigantic New Age business conference in Tarrytown New York where I tried to sign up the famous and near famous of that era to be writers for my new online conference facility. No one signed up. They didn't have computers or didn't use them. I offered to let them write their wisdom on typewriters and paper and I would enter it online. No bites.
There was no change in the basic computer phone line structure for a decade. In the meantime several programs became useful for the desktop computer. One was the 3-2-1 accounting and database program the other was Word Perfect for writing. Before that we always used line editors a really stupid system. Each line was numbered and any correction was a rewrite of the erroneous word with the correct word in a specific numbered line.
While I used e-mail on the Well, the widespread use of computers had to wait until the 1990s at which time the Internet arrived.
I visited Xerox PARC in 1971 and the leader, Bill English, was a good friend of mine. I also visited Doug Englebard’s lab in the same year. Doug was in my circle of running friends in Menlo Park.
How much of the Internet history was connected to government products or government invention is not evident to me. The Internet began only when there were many people I could communicate with on e-mail and many functions on my browser. That was a time of full commercialization.