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Internet Hall of Fame 2017 –  Alan Emtage

Internet Hall of Fame 2017 – Alan Emtage


Now we have this next person to thank for making things online easier to find. He conceived of and
implemented the world’s first Internet search engine, pioneering many of the techniques that our search engines,
great and small, use today. Mr. Alan Emtage. (applause) – Thank you everybody. As you can see, I made
it here from last night. We weren’t diverted. I would like to thank
the Internet Society. I am honored and humbled by this honor. I’m told by the secretary that I am the first Barbadian
and the first person from the Caribbean to receive — be an
inductee into the Hall of Fame. So, I’m proud of that. (applause) As I look across the
assembled crowd here tonight, it’s gratifying to see
how diverse this is, particularly, and how that has
changed over the last 30 years. There are a couple things
I would just like to say. We are in a — the Internet nowadays people think of as being this incredibly competitive and commercial market. For those of us who worked
on it of 30 years ago and for whom commercial
activity was actually forbidden, this is quite a change and while the spirit of
altruism still continues to exist on the Internet —
much of the Internet works on open-source software
which is contributed freely by programmers and
engineers across the world. That spirit of altruism
started very early on and it is, well, without blowing my own horn, the Internet as we know
it today wouldn’t exist were it not for the fact that a lot of the organizations and individuals who worked on it back then freely allowed the fruit of their work to
be distributed for free. So CERN owned the World Wide Web, released that software into the public domain. WAIS, Brewster Kahle — that was Tim Berners-Lee — Brewster Kahle did a similar thing with Thinking Machines and WAIS, Mark McCahill and Gopher. And ourselves, we — I’ll read a little a story here — I had a conversation with Vint Cerf, probably 30 years ago, and
he jokingly said to me – Why don’t you patent the
techniques that you’re using in Archie for the search engine? And we thought about it. We thought about it long
and hard. And we decided that to do so would sort of
strangle the baby in the crib — that it would restrict
the ability of people to use what we had learned
and to expand on it. So the primary question I get is why am I not a billionaire
and I’m quite happy not to be a billionaire. That’s fine with me. But it was done in the spirit of cooperation
and realizing that while we were working on
something that was big and was gonna change the world, I don’t think anybody back
then really knew how much it was going to change
and how profound a change it was going to be. One, er, two people I’d like to
mention here and thank for me being here — one is
my business partner back then. My boss and business partner was Peter Deutsch who did a lot of work to bring
Archie into the wider world and somebody else that a
lot of the old-timers here will remember and who was instrumental in what we call the user
services layer of the Internet. When I first got to the IETF back in 1991, it was just a lot of engineers and there wasn’t a lot of
attention paid to the users, and that person would be Joyce Reynolds. Joyce Reynolds, who is
unfortunately no longer with us, worked hand-in-hand with Jon Postel, and really nurtured the
the User Services Group in the IETF, and she has a huge hand in the Internet that
we know and love today. So I really would like to acknowledge her. So thank you. I’m most honored. (applause)

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