Who made the Internet? Popular culture might have you picture a young, white, nerdy man as the architect and designer, the artist and innovator, behind the Internet. Maybe he’s arrogant and standoffish. Maybe he’s shy and brilliant. He probably wears glasses. There are people like him in the story of the Internet, but his story isn't the only one. There are lots of other people who contributed to creating this valuable resource--hundreds of stories behind the making of the Internet. Women also made the Internet, and their stories can help us understand their contributions. It is only if we can find those stories to tell others.
The Internet is a complicated thing. It was built by people working over several generations, reacting to numerous forces, and working towards different goals. Women were there writing computer languages, programming computers, setting up social service directories, creating methods of navigating ARPANET, creating online communities, and building businesses. They were inventing and innovating, but they were often overlooked, or silenced. For example, when the women who programmed the ENIAC were photographed next to it, the photograph’s caption called them models.
These women deserve to have their stories told while they are around to talk about their experiences. Information on the Internet isn’t static and it isn’t permanent. Operating systems and media become obsolete. Old programming languages are superseded by new ones. Links die. A magazine published on a floppy disk in 1992 is virtually unplayable today.
Luckily, Claire L. Evans was able to find and interview many of the women in her book, Broad Band: The untold story of the womae who made the Internet. With input from the women, from their friends and coworkers, Evans shares their stories. With compassion and a keen eye researching primary sources, she sheds light on how the Internet came to be what it is today.