Remembering Bob Taylor

2013_robert_taylorBob Taylor, who far more than Al Gore had a claim to being the Father of the Internet, died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease last Thursday at 85. Though I knew him for 30 years, I can’t say I knew Bob well but we always got along and I think he liked me. Certainly I respected him for being that rarity — a non-technical person who could inspire and lead technical teams. He was in a way a kinder, gentler Steve Jobs.

Bob’s career seemed to have three phases — DARPA, XEROX, and DEC — and three technical eras — mainframes, local area network (workgroup) computing, and the Internet.

At DARPA […]


Depending on who you are talking to there were several very different reasons why the Internet was created, whether it was military command and control (Curtis LeMay told me that), to create a new communication and commerce infrastructure (Al Gore), or simply to advance the science of digital communications (lots of people). But Bob Taylor says the Internet was created to save money. And since Bob Taylor was, more than anyone, the guy who caused the Internet to be created, well I’ll believe him.

Bob Taylor, probably best known for building and managing the Computer Systems Laboratory at XEROX PARC from which emerged advances including Ethernet, laser printing, and SmallTalk, was before that the DARPA program […]