As the year comes to a close, we reflect on business success. At the Guru 42 Universe we study information technology success and share many lessons learned over the years. At GeekHistory we study the most successful geeks and explore when visions became reality.
We take a moment to remember one of the world's greatest overachievers of the industrial age, Andrew Carnegie. The name Andrew Carnegie is associated with some of the most successful businesses of the industrial age. He was an amazing and interesting man in many ways.
Overachiever Andrew Carnegie
Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, Carnegie grew up in Pittsburgh. He became a telegraph messenger boy in the Pittsburgh Office of the Ohio Telegraph Company in 1850. As a young man he worked for the the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Carnegie recognized that railroads were becoming big businesses in America and learned all he could about them. Carnegie established businesses that supplied rails and bridges to the railroad.
After the Civil War, Carnegie left the railroad and moved on to the next big thing, the steel industry. The company he started as Pittsburgh's Carnegie Steel Company would go on to become The United States Steel Corporation under the ownership of J.P. Morgan. Andrew Carnegie started out as an immigrant to the United States, and went on to become one of the wealthiest Americans ever. Carnegie's net worth would be over $300 billion adjusted to modern dollars.
Evil capitalist or American hero?
Many people see the super rich as evil capitalists. During his days in business Andrew Carnegie was considered one of the robber barons. The term uses the words robber, meaning criminal, and baron, meaning aristocrat, to imply that the businessmen used unscrupulous methods to get rich. Compared to other American businessmen during the Gilded Age in United States history, from the 1870s to about 1900, you can make the case that Carnegie was not a particularly ruthless man.
With many proposed changes currently being discussed regarding net neutrality and the FCC, the battlelines are forming. The phrase that the road to hell is paved with good intentions is a old proverb attributed to many sources.
There are so many discussions right now on proposed changes to net neutrality and the FCC, all full of good intentions, and most are as inviting as the road to hell.
I have been asked questions on Donald Trump overturning net neutrality and shutting down websites. There are two different and unrelated issues. Shutting down websites because you don't like what they have to say, or what they are selling is a completely different topic from net neutrality. There have been many proposed laws to control what content is allowed on the internet, and these laws have been for the most part, independent of the net neutrality debate, as we explain here in this discussion on Internet censorship.
Net Neutrality History
The control of the use of the internet will always be a battleground in the United States. It is very similar to the history of radio, the first form of mass communications. Since the very beginning of radio, the U.S. government has tried to control radio. The U.S. Government seized control of radio for the "good of the country" during WWI and seized all amateur radio. After WWI the government created the monopoly called the "Radio Trust" to manage the use of radio. The company RCA was basically a government created monopoly for the control of radio patents.
The FCC was later created to manage radio as it became more and more commercial. Although much has changed since 1934, a lot of the argument now going on regarding net neutrality is based on the premise of the Communications Act of 1934, in that the FCC has the power to manage internet access in the same way they have been managing telephone and radio since 1934.