Was The Internet Invented In 1934?

A scientist in the 1930s may have been decades ahead of his time when he suggested combining a telephone connection with a TV screen.

While many have difficulty remembering the world without the internet, it was nothing more than imagination in 1934, when Paul Otlet described what would become the information superhighway.

TechNewsDaily reported that during a discussion of the world wide web’s past, present and future at the World Science Festival in New York City on Saturday, Otlet’s name came up.

Otlet, a Belgian scientist and author who is already regarded as the father of information science, was on to something when he published his Treaties on Documentation.

Decades before the iPad, the Kindle, or even the computer screen, Otlet was devising a plan to combine television with the phone to send and spread information from published works.

In his Treaties on Documentation, Otlet referenced what would become the computer when he wrote: ‘Here the workspace is no longer cluttered with any books.

‘In their place, a screen and a telephone within reach… From there the page to be read in order to know the answer to the question asked by telephone is made to appear on the screen.’

He went on to suggest that dividing a computer screen could show multiple books at once, a possible reference to opening a few browser windows or tabs at once.

More than 30 years later, Otlet’s writings were first put into practice.

Also appearing at the World Science Festival discussion was Vinton Cerf, who was at the forefront of the world wide web when it was a military project in the 1960s.


Sources and more information:

• Paul Otlet’s idea of ‘televised book’ foretold the internet in 1934

• The Visionary of 1934: The scientist whose ‘televised book’ foretold the world wide web seven decades ago

• Paul Otlet’s idea of ‘televised book’ foretold the internet in 1934

• Was the Internet Invented in 1934?

Share.