Politics & Polls #144: The Origins of the Internet Featuring David Kushner

Jun 20 2019
By Morgan C. Tucker
Source Woodrow Wilson School

The internet continues to expand and grow in complexity, yet many people are unaware of its origins. Understanding the internet’s roots could be beneficial when looking toward the future of the web. 

David Kushner, award-winning journalist and author, joins Julian E. Zelizer to talk about his new book, “The Players Ball: A Genius, A Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet’s Rise.” The book tells the relatively unknown story of Gary Kremen, creator of Match.com, and his fight for ownership of Sex.com against Stephen Michael Cohen. Kushner demonstrates how the Internet has evolved as a commercial platform through communication and business.

Kushner is a contributing editor of Rolling Stone and has written for publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, New York Times Magazine, New York, and GQ. He has also written “Masters of Doom,” “Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids,” and more.


Zelizer has been among the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a CNN political analyst. He has written more than 900 op-eds, including his popular weekly column for CNN.com and The Atlantic. This year, he is the distinguished senior fellow at the New York Historical Society, where he is writing a biography of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel for Yale University's Jewish Lives Series. He is the author and editor of more than 19 books including, “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society,” the winner of the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the Best Book on Congress. In January 2019, Norton published his new book, co-authored with Kevin Kruse, “Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974.” In spring 2020, Penguin Press will publish his other book, “Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party.” He has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and New America.