If Gore did not invent the Internet, who did?

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Thu Sep 18 17:55:35 UTC 2003

In the now-notorious ADS-L Digest - 10 Sep 2003 to 11 Sep 2003 (#2003-254),
which introduced the world to the phrase "gradual student" (Brenda Lester, Thu,
11 Sep 2003 11:41:26 ):

Barry Popik (Thu, 11 Sep 2003 19:15:17) clearly and unambiguously refers to a
post to the ADS-L list that he made in 1956.  Considering that e-mail was not
invented until 1960 (as part of Project MAC at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology), we now have the answer to the title question.  The Internet was
invented not by Vice-President Gore but by Judge Popik.

Also we need to examine George Thompson's letter of Thu, 11 Sep 2003 12:08:15
, which reads in part:
"all the members, on arriving, changed street clothes for kimonos, silk
underware and hosiery, and some wore women's wigs.  The members made up with powder
and paint as for the stage, according to the recital by the officers, and the
orgies were attented [sic---attainted?] by at least fifty at each meeting."

(Aside: we have the noun "makeup" meaning "cosmetics" and the past participle
"made up" meaning "having had cosmetics applied", so we should not be
surprised at an active preterite form "made up" meaning "applied cosmetics to

As a professional in the computer business, I have encountered hardware,
software, firmware, and vaporware, but I cannot recall ever having heard
"underware".  Not even from the company which back in the early 1980's manufactured
"Baby Blue"  (an add-on board to the then-new IBM PC to enable it to run CP/M
programs; the name is an obvious play on IBM's nickname of "Big Blue").

Now to be serious.  "Underware" above reminded me that I failed to report an
actual and I believe widespread computer proverb:  "That's a skinware problem"
meaning usually "that's not a problem with the computer system; the (human)
user did something dumb".  Less often it can mean "that's not a problem with
the computer; the programmer goofed."

This proverb is of course the computer jargon equivalent of "The problem was
the nut holding the wheel."

            James A. Landau
            systems engineer
            FAA Technical Center (ACB-510/BCI)
            Atlantic City Int'l Airport   NJ   08405   USA

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