high performance computing and communications

High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991

The High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991 (HPCA, , enacted 1991-12-09) is an Act of Congress created and introduced by then Senator Al Gore (it was thus referred to as the Gore Bill).

The Act led to the development of the National Research and Education Network (NREN) (which was referred to with the rhetoric of the Information Superhighway). It also led to the development of the National Information Infrastructure (also discussed through the rhetoric of the Information Superhighway), the High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative (an off-shoot of the HPCA), the web browser Mosaic, and the creation of a high-speed fiber optic network that, when utilized, would help stimulate the economy.

Overview

Senator Al Gore developed the Act after hearing the 1988 report Toward a National Research Network submitted to Congress by a group chaired by UCLA professor of computer science, Leonard Kleinrock, one of the central creators of the ARPANET (the ARPANET, first deployed by Kleinrock and others in 1969, is the predecessor of the Internet).

The bill was enacted on 1991-12-09 and led to the National Information Infrastructure (NII) which Gore referred to as the "information superhighway". President George H. W. Bush predicted that the Act would help "unlock the secrets of DNA," open up foreign markets to free trade, and a promise of cooperation between government, academia, and industry.

An important result of the Gore Bill was the development of Mosaic in 1993, the World Wide Web browser which is credited by most scholars as beginning the Internet boom of the 1990s:

Gore's legislation also helped fund the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, where a team of programmers, including Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, created the Mosaic Web browser, the commercial Internet's technological springboard. 'If it had been left to private industry, it wouldn't have happened,' Andreessen says of Gore's bill, 'at least, not until years later.'

Controversy

Gore gave an interview for CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on 9 March 1999 in which he stated,

During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.

This statement was often misquoted by media outlets and led to the creation of a widely spread urban legend that Gore claimed to have "invented the Internet." The urban legend became "an automatic laugh. Jay Leno, David Letterman, or any other comedic talent can crack a joke about Al Gore 'inventing the Internet,' and the audience is likely to respond with howls of laughter.

In response to the controversy, Internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn argued in a 2000 email that, "We don't think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he "invented" the Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet. Gore would later poke fun at the controversy on the The Late Show with David Letterman when he read Letterman's Top 10 List, which for this show was called, "Top Ten Rejected Gore - Lieberman Campaign Slogans." Number nine on the list was: "Remember, America, I gave you the Internet, and I can take it away!

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