Al Gore got a lot of flak for supposedly saying he invented the internet. Like lapel pins, obscure racial slurs, and pretty much anything else people may or may not care about, this fake quote was turned into a makeshift political weapon in the 2000 election.
But Al Gore never said he invented the internet. Why didn’t he? Because he knew, deep down, that he was no Vint Cerf.
(Side note: since Al Gore didn’t actually say that, we’ll give the “best political internet quote” nod to former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who famously said that “the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes!”)
Back to our central thesis: Vinton Gray Cerf is a badass, and probably the main reason you’re reading this blog today.
In the 1980’s, Mr. Cerf, a former program manager for the U.S. Department of Defense, moved to MCI, and developed the first commercial email system.
A few years later, in another move that would be co-opted by a future politician, Vint said “Yes, ICANN” and helped start and later become chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is basically the backbone that holds the internet together. You can thank Vint Cerf the next time your computer is able to successfully find and deliver that cat video you’re always watching.
But that wasn’t enough for Mr. Cerf. In 1992, with Bob Kahn, he co-founded the Internet Society to establish standards, education, and policy for the entire frickin’ internet! So you can also thank him for the…ahem… high standards of the internet.
In 2005, Vint became a Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google, and basically predicts – and by that, we mean “tells you” – how things are going to be in 20 years. Look at that title: Chief Internet Evangelist. Think of how many American tragedies could have been averted if chiefs and evangelists realized that all it took was “internet” to bring them together. The Trail of Tears was probably just a manifestation of people’s sadness after realizing Vint Cerf wouldn’t spearhead the internet’s development for another 150 years. If Vint Cerf were a founding father of America instead of the internet, the world would be a better place. Imagine hippies and capitalists coming together to build the Keystone XL Peace Pipe-line. If only Vint were born sooner.
And just in case Vint didn’t make his awesomeness abundantly clear, in 2010 he joined the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, to ensure that more and more people get to access his brainchild.
For this, Vinton Gray Cerf earned the title (with pal Bob Kahn) as one of the two “fathers of the internet.” About the only mistake Vint ever made was losing control of web terminology, because we really shouldn’t be “surfing the internet,” but instead “Cerfing the Vinternet.”