In a recent talk at the John Podesta-led Center for American Progress, Larry Lessig revealed several previously unnoticed secrets of the Internet’s origins.

First that the Net began in 1984 driven by three important policy changes (not by the introduction of the MacIntosh as I would have guessed ;->). All of these policy changes are products of Republican actions according to Lessig (once a Republican himself).

  1. Packet switched networks with guarantied network neutrality. (as part of the AT&T break up).
  2. Manufacturing limited (or no) liability for copying in Sony vs Universal which gave us the Consumer Electronics industry.
  3. Release of experimental radio spectrum which gave us WiFi.

There is of course more. All 39 minutes are captured on video and remixed nicely by the Center for American Progress‘s Carl Malamud and hosted at Great show well done.

Note: Unmentioned by Lessig is the decidedly unRepublican but signal event of 1984 — Richard Stallman began work in GNU Emacs and the word “Copyleft” was coined. (Stallman writes “In 1984 or 1985, Don Hopkins (a very imaginative fellow) mailed me a letter. On the envelope he had written several amusing sayings, including this one: “Copyleft–all rights reversed.” I used the word “copyleft” to name the distribution concept I was developing at the time.”)