Is It True That I Invented The Internet AND The Personal Computer?

In the About Sonny Cohen section of this website I state, “Yes, I did invent the personal computer and then the Internet.” A flip remark if there ever was one. I guess I better explain.

Photo of Altair Computer by Dmitry Sumin from Flickr and used under Creative Commons license
Altair 8800 Computer. Probably the first microcomputer that was sold to consumers around 1975.

In the early to mid-1970’s, hobbyists built simple computing kits. The ancients remember Heathkit, Altair, etc. Some of these kit manufacturers put together a set of circuits on one board. TaDa! The motherboard was born and shortly thereafter a more or less functional computer.

Did I invent any of this? Nope. My contribution was introducing these nascent tools to the market with cartridge games (think Fairchild Channel F Game Console) and then the Apple I followed quickly by Apple II (IIe, II+, IIc, IIg, IIgs, etc.). The personal computer was a “movement” that I, with hundreds of others helped lead. Yes, together with many others I did help to realize the personal computer from its tangle of wires and circuits. In 1977 I met with Steve Jobs and became one of the first Apple Computer Dealers (an extinct species). We were off to the races.

Photo of telephone and modem by Bryan Alexander from Flickr and used under Creative Commons license
Modem with Phone

And yes, I did invent the Internet, too. We just didn’t call it that. We called it the telephone system. Some called it “Ma Bell.” And we connected our computer to the phone system. We called it a bulletin board system or, to be cool, BBS. And when somebody used their computer to call our computer they could do exciting things (consider the time!) like leaving a message or downloading a computer program or even entering a virtual room and connecting with other computer visitors. Wow! Yes, we were very cool nerds. And, again, with many others we helped paved the way for the modern Internet.

I know, saying I invented personal computers and the internet is a stretch. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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