Chillblast supplies computers for some of the most important university research on the planet. So we should not have been surprised to receive a message from a customer who is also a famous academic. She told us gently that we had made a mistake in our previous blog. We stated that the Internet was not invented by our very own Tim Berners-Lee 30 years ago, but by an American called Vint Clef 45 years ago.
It turns out that the Internet was actually invented eighty-five years ago by a Belgian called Paul Otlet. In fact Otlet designed what he called his Mundaneum more than a century ago, but he had to wait until 1934 for technology to catch up with his proposal for a World Brain, which he phrased as “the telephonic library and the televised book, to access remote data by networks of electric telescopes.” A user would dial in and make a contribution or query by telephone, and the result would appear on a personalised screen, which could be divided to display multiple results. The network supported audio too, but Otlet’s real claim to be the inventor of the Internet lies in his designs that enabled data-sharing and social networks among users. Let’s hope that is the end of the debate.