Paul Baran, one of the original inventors of the Internet, passed away this weekend at age 84. He’s credited with inventing the packet-switched network. Here’s how he described his contribution to the creation of the Internet:
The process of technological developments is like building a cathedral. Over the course of several hundred years, new people come along and each lays down a block on top of the old foundations, each saying, ‘I built a cathedral.’ Next month another block is placed atop the previous one. Then comes along an historian who asks, ‘Well, who built the cathedral?’ Peter added some stones here, and Paul added a few more. If you are not careful you can con yourself into believing that you did the most important part. But the reality is that each contribution has to follow onto previous work. Everything is tied to everything else.
Sometimes it’s strange to me to think that we’re watching the twilight of the first generation of computer scientists. What a world they created for us to enjoy.