The main characters of the Internet, from precursors to web entrepreneurs

By dividing into 5 generations (the last of which has not yet been built), Jonathan Bourguignon sheds light on what he calls ” recurring characters “Within his work” The Internet, Year Zero: From Silicon Valley to China, the Birth and Changes of the Network “.

The first generation: the prophets

In this first category, the author evokes the influence of dozens of characters from the end of the nineteenth century to the sixties. Among them, we find “prophets”, such as the scientific adviser to former US President Franklin Roosevelt, Vannevar Bush (1890 -1974) or the writer and journalist George Orwell (1903-1950), the author of the novel 1984, which inspired the ad campaign for the first Macintosh that same year. British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954), who managed to decipher Enigma – the German Army’s encrypted communications cipher machine during World War II – to whom we owe the “imitation game”, the springboard for artificial intelligence, is also part of this first generation.

The second generation: the children of abundance

Like the duo formed by Fenton Cerf (1943-) and Bob Kahn (1938-), they pioneered the Internet for inventing the TCP/IP protocol at ARPA and founded the Internet Society in 1992,” which aims to enhance network access, education and influence on network standards This second generation baptized by Jonathan Bourguignon as “Children of Plenty” has 5 new main characters associated with the birth of the web. Also note the presence of John Perry Barlow (1947-2018), founder of Press Freedom FoundationWhistleblower Edward Snowden is a board member.

Third generation: hackers

Born in the 1950s and 1960s, the seven third-generation “hackers” include major names in technology, such as Apple creator Steve Jobs (1955-2011), Tim Berners-Lee (1955-), inventor Wade Webb, or Eric Schmidt (1955-), who led Google from 2001 to 2011, a period in which ” Leading Google’s transformation into an advertising war machine Alongside them is the American human rights defender and activist Lawrence Lessig (1961-) A strong advocate of net neutrality, free software licenses, culture and the radio spectrum To his credit: Create the widely used Creative Commons (CC) licenses on the web.

Fourth generation: pioneers of the web

The thirteen “web pioneers”, who make up the fourth generation, according to Jonathan Bourguignon, are part of the media and digital landscape that surrounds us daily. We find there in particular the founders of SpaceX (Elon Musk, 1971-), Netscape (Marc Andreessen, 1971-), Google (Larry Page, 1973-, and Sergey Brin, 1973-), or even Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg, 1984-) . Internet and other major technology personalities are also at the heart of this fourth generation, such as:

  • Jeff Bezos (1964-): The founder of Amazon, which was originally a simple online bookstore when it launched in 1994, before becoming the major player in e-commerce and also having a presence in cloud computing with AWS.
  • Jack Ma (1964-): The builder of Alibaba, launched in 1999 and considered the Chinese equivalent of Amazon.
  • Peter Tell (1967-): This major figure in technology is none other than the father of PayPal (1998) and Palantir (2003), before he became ” One of the most powerful investors in Silicon Valley ‘, discovering Facebook’s potential too early.
  • Robin Lee (1968-): The Chinese engineer and entrepreneur, who co-founded Baidu, developed the RankDex algorithm that was to inspire the Google search engine and in particular PageRank.
  • Pavel and Nikolai Durov (1984-, 1980-): The two Russian-born brothers are behind the VKontakte (VK) social network, ” russian facebook imitation », and Telegram, an alternative to WhatsApp that has more than 500 million users worldwide.

What about the fifth generation?

If Jonathan Bourguignon mentions in his work a fifth generation of the main characters of the Internet, qualified as “sons of artificial intelligence”, then this generation is currently empty. The author explains: 5G is still too young to list their adventures in the network Case to follow!

Everything you need to know about the Internet, from its inception to the present day

Leave a Comment