John Naughton was born and raised in Ireland, that part of which he himself describes as being “like the edge of the world—in a remote part of
rural Ireland, in a household with few books, magazines, or television.”
As a boy, John Naughton was a great wireless
fan, especially of short wave.
For longwave wireless
he remembers that the stations were identified by the physical locations of their transmitters: ‘Droitwich’
Other stations on the long-wave band that he remembered were: Minsk
Medium wave radio pointed to another collection of locations with "glamorous connotations": Bordeaux, Stockholm, Rennes, Vienna and somewhere called Mühlacker
Of all the things that interested him about the wireless-technology of the time it was the short wave radio that held the key to what he later recognized was a link to the present World Wide Web:
“For this [short-wave radio] was a technology which belonged not to great corporations or governments, but to people.”
For Naughton, the early days of radio mirror and inform the experience of the early days of the Internet (the Net) and the World Wide Web.
In 1968 he moved to the United Kingdom.
Naughton went to primary school with the Christian Brothers
and with the Jesuits
Later, he studied at the University College Cork
and the Emmanuel College in Cambridge
As an undergraduate he became involved with student politics, and as a consequence started to write for newspapers and developed his writing skills.
He is an electrical engineer and also works as a journalist.
Naughton started working as an academic in the Open University
's systems workgroup in 1972
. He was appointed as a professor
of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University
John Naughton is Director of the Wolfson College, Cambridge
Press Fellowship Programme, non-executive Chairman of RAB-eye and of Ndiyo
. He is also a founding partner of Ellipsian, a Cambridge-based ideas factory.
John Naughton met his Wife Sue in England while working together on a project of the Open University
. They had three children, named Annie, Thomas and Peter.
Tragically, his wife Sue died in 2002 after a battle with cancer.
Naughton wrote a book which has become a standard on the history on the Internet:
- A Brief History of the Future: Origins of the Internet, Phoenix Press, 2000, ISBN 0-7538-1093-X
He also writes a weekly column for the Business Section of The Observer.
- Naughton, John A Brief History of the Future: the origins of the Internet. London: Phoenix.