No Credit Where It's Due by Declan McCullagh
3:00 a.m. 11.Mar.99.PST WASHINGTON -- It's a time-honored tradition for presidential hopefuls to claim credit for other people's successes.
But Al Gore as the father of the Internet?
That's what the campaigner in chief told CNN's Wolf Blitzer during an interview Tuesday evening. Blitzer asked Gore how he was different than other presumptive Democratic challengers, such as Bill Bradley. "What do you have to bring to this that he doesn't necessarily bring to this process?"
Replied Gore: "I'll be offering my vision when my campaign begins, and it'll be comprehensive and sweeping, and I hope that it'll be compelling enough to draw people toward it.... I've traveled to every part of this country during the last six years."
Then came the kicker: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
Preliminary discussions of how the ARPANET would be designed began in 1967, and a request for proposals went out the following year. In 1969, the Defense Department commissioned the ARPANET.
Gore was 21-years-old at the time. He wasn't even done with law school at Vanderbilt University. It would be eight more years before Gore would be elected to the US House of Representatives as a freshman Democrat with scant experience in passing legislation, let alone ambitious proposals.
By that time, file copying -- via the UUCP protocol -- was beginning. Email was flourishing. The culture of the Internet was starting to develop through the Jargon File and the SF-Lovers mailing list.
Of course, politicians weren't completely unaware of the Internet. According to one account, when Senator Ted Kennedy learned in 1968 that Massachusetts-based BBN had won the ARPA contract for an "interface message processor," he sent a congratulatory telegram. It thanked the upstanding folks at BBN for their ecumenical spirit in devising an "interfaith message processor."
Blitzer, unfortunately, didn't appear to know any of that. After Gore took credit for the Internet, Blitzer simply moved on talk about polls showing Texas governor George W. Bush and Elizabeth Dole ahead of the vice president. [...]