Paul Baran, inventor of packet switching and co-founder of the Institute for the Future, is dead. If anyone could have claimed to have invented the Internet, it may have been Paul Baran. From Wired’s obit:
Baran was working at the famed RAND corporation on a “survivable”communications system in the early 1960s when he thought up one of its core concepts: breaking up a single message into smaller pieces, having them travel different, unpredictable paths to their destination, and only then putting them back together. It’s called packet switching and it’s how everything still gets gets to your e-mail inbox. […]
Baran approached AT&T to build such a network. But the company, which at the time had the U.S. telephone monopoly and, backing Baran, could conceivably have also owned the internet, just didn’t see the possibilities.
Wired: Internet Architect Paul Baran Dies at 84
Wired 2001 interview with Baran