Essay: Alexander Graham Bell to Tim Berners-Lee
Alexander Graham Bell to Tim Berners-Lee
Imagine spending a portion of your life working on an invention that you don’t even want to use. Even worse, imagine having to spend the rest of your life protecting the rights of your invention. These issues are small in comparison to the trillion dollar industries both the telephone and the World Wide Web spawned. Growing up envisioning what it would be like to create an invention that changed the world only painted pictures of praise and accolade, not defense of the invention nor refrain from using it. You imagine brainstorming new ideas, spending day and night turning ideas into reality, working out complicated problems, and celebrating the failures and successes of your creativity. Every inventor dreams of the day they see the positive effect their invention has on society, but do they consider the change the invention will have on their personal life. Alexander Graham Bell & Tim Berners-Lee both had inventions that revolutionized how the world communicates and both also faced issue with their original invention.
Alexander Graham Bell was not only an inventor but a scientist and engineer as well. Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 3, 1847. Bell’s family was well known in the fields of speech and communication. Bell’s dedication to improving communication was motivated by the fact that his mother was deaf. As a young child, instead of trying to speak to his mother through her ears, he choose to communicate by speaking in low tones to her forehead, claiming she would be able to hear the vibrations of his voice. When Bell was 23 his family decided to move to Canada and he choose to go with them even though his career in London was starting to show promise.
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell utilized vibrations over a copper line as part of his invention that the world will come to know as the telephone. To demonstrate this amazing invention he would make an example telephone call to someone in close proximity. Once the call was successful, he would make a phone call to a distance even farther away. In June of 1876 he was demonstrating the telephone to the judges of the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Among them was the Emperor of Brazil, Don Pedro II, who said “My God, it talks!” The following year The Bell Telephone Company was formed and the telephone quickly started moving in to every house in America and across the world. Although the telephone was generally accepted as a necessary communication device, Bell refused to have one in his office or study. Bell viewed the phone as an unnecessary distraction that only got in the way of his work. Tim Berners-Lee was born in London on June 8 th , 1955. He graduated from Oxford College with a degree in Physics. Computing was always second-nature for Tim as his parents both worked on the first commercial computer, Ferranti Mark I. He worked various jobs after college until he found himself as an independent contractor at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research based in Switzerland. At CERN Tim noticed that many external researchers and scientists did not have the time nor desire to alter their work so it could function with the public documenting system at CERN. He envisioned a simple system that was decentralized so that anyone could share information without having to conform to rules set by a centralized authority.
Moving in to the digital era, the invention of the internet is one you can’t credit to any single person, but Tim-Berners Lee is the inventor of what we, the public, know as the internet. Tim called it the World Wide Web. Tim choose those letters we all know so well; http://www. Recently he was asked what he would change about his invention of the WWW and his reply was “I would take out the slash- slash after the colon”. Although he does not regret his invention or refrain from using it, he does have issue with the current efforts to regulate and monitor the web. Tim feels the internet should be free and not controlled by large corporations or government. Tim is the Director of the World Wide Web Foundation which is active in the fight to keep the web decentralized, open, and free, as it was intended to be. Governments across the world are increasing monitoring and implementing controlling devices or software to restrict or censor people’s online access.
Alexander Graham Bell may never have put a phone near him when he was working, but he still celebrated the success of the phone to break down communication barriers around the world. Tim Berners-Lee successfully expanded Bell’s vision by bringing the world together with technology and now has to defend his invention to keep it free from un-warranted and unnecessary government and corporate intervention. The life of an inventor seems to be more stressful than imagined by the child dreaming of changing the world with an invention they will create in their future. Thankfully we have inventors willing to spend their life fighting to keep their invention how they intended it to be.
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