This case looks at the development of the Internet, a social innovation which has transformed our relationship with communication and information in ways that touch all aspects of our lives. It traces its origins back to the invention of packet switching in both the US and UK, through the emergence of the earliest computer networks, and finally to the launch of the World Wide Web, which made the technology accessible to everyone with a home computer. Though this is a story of new technology, it is also an example of the way that social innovations can be deeply shaped by the convictions and choices of their founders. This case describes the early struggle over the identity of the Internet, how it was shaped by the sometimes utopian aspirations of its creators, and how early attempts to exert ownership and control of the technology largely failed, though the struggle is ongoing.
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