The People Behind the Information Age

reachingstarThe story of the people behind the Information Age is highly distorted, mainly because of the skewing of interest towards the handful who have made enormous sums of money based upon that evolution.  For example, the names of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and others are well-known for just that reason. 

But the truth of the matter is that many of the key players are either completely unknown to the public or only vaguely known.  That is because many of the people who played major roles saw it as a matter of doing their job for the companies they worked for who built the systems and equipment we now use today. 

In truth, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have played a vital part in both groupidearebuilding the telecommunications infrastructure that is the underlying foundation for the Information Age and in advancing Information Technologies of many diverse types. 

For instance, few know a man by the name of Ed Roberts, but he was the creator of the first personal computer (PC).  Dick Snelling, Sr., who was the Executive Vice President of Network for BellSouth, was the mastermind behind the use of optical fiber transmission systems, self-healing networks, and who was the person who foresaw the convergence of telecommunications and consumer electronics and computers.  And few of you reading this have heard of me, Jim Messenger, because I created and promoted The Theory of the Information Age as part of my work for the American Telephone & Telegraph Company. 

There are also many unrecorded contributors.  For instance, in the early 1980s, when the American Telephone & Telegraph Company was going to turn up the first long-distance optical fiber cable running between New York City and Washington, D.C., I was one of two producers of the first television transmission sent via fiber optic cable.  While setting up the broadcast, I encountered a teenage boy wandering around in the AT&T Central Office in Washington, D.C., who stood out because Central Offices were considered too dangerous for young people, but he informed me that he was the inventor of the equipment that would be turning the analog TV signals into a digital signal that could be sent via the optical fiber.

This young genius – whose name I unfortunately failed to record – made a major contribution to the Information Age.  There are many such individuals who have made important contributions to the coming of the Information Age, with the result being a powerful technological foundation in place for the interconnection of computers via telecommunications – and these individuals saw to it that this was accomplished on a global basis.

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