Girish Mahajan

High Performance Computing Act of 1991

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Acronyms (colloquial)  HPCA
Effective  December 9, 1991
Nicknames  Gore Bill
Public law  102-194
High Performance Computing Act of 1991
Long title  An Act to provide for a coordinated Federal program to ensure continued United States leadership in high-performance computing.
Enacted by  the 102nd United States Congress

The High Performance Computing Act of 1991 (HPCA) is an Act of Congress promulgated in the 102nd United States Congress as (Pub.L. 102–194) on December 9, 1991. Often referred to as the Gore Bill, it was created and introduced by then Senator Al Gore, and led to the development of the National Information Infrastructure and the funding of the National Research and Education Network (NREN).

Contents

Background

The act built on prior U.S. efforts of developing a national networking infrastructure, starting with the ARPANET in the 1960s, and the funding of the National Science Foundation Network (NSFnet) in the 1980s. The renewed effort became known in popular language as building the Information superhighway. It also included the High-Performance Computing and Communications Initiative and spurred many significant technological developments, such as the Mosaic web browser, and the creation of a high-speed fiber optic computer network.

Development and passage

Senator Al Gore developed (the word "crafted" is used in another Wikipedia article) the Act after hearing the 1988 report Toward a National Research Network submitted to Congress by a group chaired by UCLA professor of computer science Leonard Kleinrock, one of the creators of the ARPANET, which is regarded as the eve network of the Internet.

The bill was enacted on December 9, 1991, and led to the National Information Infrastructure (NII) which Gore referred to as the "Information superhighway". President George H. W. Bush predicted that the Act would help "unlock the secrets of DNA," open up foreign markets to free trade, and a promise of cooperation between government, academia, and industry.

Results

Among the many technological achievements that resulted from the funding of the Gore Bill, was the development of Mosaic in 1993, the World Wide Web browser software which is credited by most scholars as beginning the Internet boom of the 1990s:

Gore's legislation also helped fund the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, where a team of programmers, including Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, created the Mosaic Web browser, the commercial Internet's technological springboard. 'If it had been left to private industry, it wouldn't have happened,' Andreessen says of Gore's bill, 'at least, not until years later.'

Gore reiterated the role of government financing in American success in a 1996 speech when he (U.S. Vice President Al Gore) said the following:

"That's how it has worked in America. Government has supplied the initial flicker -- and individuals and companies have provided the creativity and innovation that kindled that spark into a blaze of progress and productivity that's the envy of the world."

CNN interview

Following a 1999 CNN interview, then-Vice President Gore became the subject of some controversy and ridicule when his expression I took the initiative in creating the Internet was widely quoted out of context, indeed often misquoted, by comedians and the popular media who took his expression to be a claim that he personally had invented the Internet. George W. Bush, Gore's opponent in the 2000 presidential election, mocked the vice president's claim during his acceptance speech before the Republican convention that year.

The meaning of Gore's statement, referring to his legislative support of the early Internet, was widely reaffirmed by notable Internet pioneers, such as Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, who stated, "No one in public life has been more intellectually engaged in helping to create the climate for a thriving Internet than the Vice President".

References

High Performance Computing Act of 1991 Wikipedia


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