Robert Taylor at the Computer History Museum

Robert Taylor (r) interviewed by Guy Raz at the Computer History Museum

As part of the Computer History Museum‘s series, Net@40, NPR radio’s Guy Raz interviewed Robert Taylor, a visionary pioneer of the Internet from outside of engineering. Taylor was a program administrator with a background in psychoacoustics, who, at ARPA in the 1960’s, initiated the ARPANet program that later evolved into the Internet we know today. Later, Taylor joined Xerox PARC, where many of the interactive computing concepts we use daily were first developed (and famously left to other companies to bring to the mass market). Finally, Taylor worked at DEC (formerly Digital Equipment Corporation) where his organization created AltaVista, the first full-text search engine for the world wide web, predating Google by more than a year.

Taylor had some interesting ideas about what makes the internet what it is, particularly citing the difference between the interactive computing experience compared to the previous batch processing (think of taking a stack of punch cards down to the machine room, and coming back the next day for your output) as a formative development for internetworking. In his view, once timesharing computer systems were available, and direct interactions became possible with other users on the same computer, the idea of networking multiple computers together became obvious. Nonetheless it took many years for networking technology to develop from that starting point, and then many more years to become an every-day mass-market technology.

Look for video of the presentation to appear at CHM’s YouTube channel in 1-2 weeks.

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