BT invented hyperlinks shock

The backlash begins

BT's announcement that it invented the principle behind the hyperlink has receiving mocking condemnation from a number of Register readers.

"Ted Nelson might have a few things to say to BT about this..." wrote Mark Allerton pointing to the Professorial Home Page of Ted Nelson, Project Professor, Keio Shonan Fujisawa Campus, Japan.

Phil Randal said: "My first exposure to the hyperlinking/hypertext concepts came from Ted Nelson's seminal book Computer Lib published in 1974."

Steven C Den Beste said: "The entire concept was described by Ted Nelson in the book Dream Machines, which was published at least five years before BT's claimed work. In fact, Ted Nelson invented the word 'hypertext' as part of that discussion, which was precisely about the entire concept of non-linear texts."

Raymond Rodgers of Vancouver University wrote: "Interesting. In 1952 I wrote of computers (then the size of busses) 'they will shrink, and link, and help us to think' - and then spelled it out in a 1971 book.

"So they should pass some of the money on to me?" he said.

Either way, it appears there is a dispute about BT's "claim" to this particular piece of Net engineering. And since the telco has only six years left in which to stake its claim (its US patent runs out in 2006) the chances of it actually getting any cash from US ISPs look slim.

Then again, they were awarded the patent.

Which begs the question: why did BT only decide now to capitalise on its intellectual property? And shouldn't they have saved this story for 1 April when we could all have had a good laugh together? ®

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