They say that history is written by the victorious…which begs the question as to how Al Gore and Friendster manage to get center stage in a history of the Internet.
Vanity Fair writes a rambling eight-part 22 page story on history of the Internet called “How The Web Was Won” for its latest edition. The article pays tribute to Internet pioneers, including Al Gore, as well as some of the companies that have defined the commercial Internet (Amazon, Ebay, PayPal, Ning, MySpace, Friendster, YouTube).
It’s going to be fairly easy to nitpick the list of companies included in the photo slideshow. No Google, for example. No Firefox, Yahoo or Microsoft. Nary a word on Facebook. Or any non-U.S. companies for that matter. And the history of computer networking and the Internet is, necessarily, somewhat abridged and leaves a lot of people out (I think one of the best quick reads on the history of the Internet is Andy Kessler’s How We Got Here if you are looking for something a little meatier).
Dozens of people were interviewed for the article, which is mostly an edited version of those interviews. The people highlighted in photographs: the Internet “Founding Fathers” (Leonard Kleinrock, Paul Baran, Larry Roberts), YouTube (Steve Chen, Chad Hurley), Al Gore (for his legislative work that “paved the way for…the Internet as we know it today), Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Ning (Gina Bianchini, Marc Andreessen), MySpace (Chris DeWolfe, Tom Anderson), Jonathan Abrams, and the “Wizards” (Vint Cerf, Robert Kahn).