Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Top 5 Myths About the Internet

        Tech | Tech Myths

5
Al Gore Invented the Internet
Former Vice President Al Gore poses with director Davis Guggenheim after winning an Academy Award for their 2006 documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." In 1999, Gore came under fire for reportedly overstating his role in the creation of the Internet.
Former Vice President Al Gore poses with director Davis Guggenheim after winning an Academy Award for their 2006 documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." In 1999, Gore came under fire for reportedly overstating his role in the creation of the Internet.
Vince Bucci/Getty Images

This one's actually a myth within a myth. The first myth is that former vice president Al Gore invented the Internet. The second myth is that Al Gore ever claimed to have "invented" anything.

On March 9, 1999, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer interviewed Al Gore as Gore was beginning his 2000 presidential campaign. Answering a question about what he would bring to the table, Gore replied:

"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."

Even Gore's most loyal defenders admit that if he never meant to take sole credit for the creation of the Internet, he phrased it awkwardly. It didn't take long for critics to leap upon what appeared to be a gross overstatement, if not an outright lie.

Two days after the interview, journalist Declan McCullagh wrote a story for Wired News lambasting Gore for exaggerating his role in the Internet's creation, and then followed up his story with an e-mail newsletter titled, "House Majority Leader Armey on Gore 'inventing the Internet'" [source: Finklestein].

The story exploded, and although Gore never uttered the words "invented the Internet," that phrase would be repeated in nearly 5,000 news stories and countless late night talk show monologues during the campaign [source: Boehlert].

While Gore did popularize the phrase "information superhighway" and supported early high-speed network legislation, the men traditionally credited with "inventing" the Internet are Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn [source: Google].


More to Explore