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The Internet Monopoly That Could've Been

In 1971, AT&T passed up the opportunity to own the Internet. Oops?

by Janus Rose
18 January 2012, 12:00am

Recent victories over Hollywood’s Stop Online Piracy Act have reinvigorated the fight against a corporate takeover of the internet. But throughout this ongoing crusade to keep the ’net democratic and free, one might ask: how did it even get that way in the first place? A big part of it has to do with the fact that in 1971, AT&T decided not to buy it.

It’s hard to believe, but yes: AT&T, the telecom giant, passed up an opportunity to own a monopoly on the internet. In the early 70s, the U.S. government’s plan for ARPANet was to sell it off to the private sector once it had outlived its usefulness. But when program director Larry Roberts approached the company about taking over, AT&T refused.

Read the rest at Motherboard.