Discerning Cern's role

March 6, 2008

It is a shame that an excellent leader was spoilt by a failure to check facts ("Pricing the brains of Britain", 28 February). "Where would we be, for instance, if Cern had decided to patent the internet?" asks the editor. Unfortunately, Cern did not invent the internet. The protocols underlying the internet were developed by US academics on Arpa (Advanced Research Projects Agency) projects in the 1970s. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, working for Cern, developed and released the protocol underlying the world wide web (hypertext transfer protocol or HTTP) in the 1990s, as a higher level protocol running over the lower level internet protocols (transfer control protocol/internet protocol or TCP/IP).

Andrew A. Adams, School of Systems Engineering, University of Reading.

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