Fort Monroe - "Inventing" Electronic Mail for the Internet

One of the most shocking statements made in the 2000 presidential campaign was Al Gore's claim that he "invented the Internet." The statement was especially outrageous to Major Tom Baird, who spent several years in an old building at Fort Monroe, Virginia helping to build the infrastructure that would become "the Internet." Tom was helping write the basic code that built the communications backbone of the Internet when Al Gore was in Law School at Vanderbilt University and starting his political career in Congress.

Mr. Gore's first interest in computing came when he became a Congressman from Tennessee. He would be later called an Atari Democrat because of this interest in computing. In all fairness, he did write the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-194), which funded much of what the Internet would become, especially, the Mosaic Browser. Unfortunately for Al Gore, appropriating money to build the Internet does not mean he "invented it." There was still a lot of hard work to be done by people in the military, the academic world, and in industry. Mr. Gore does continue to sit on the Board of Directors of Apple, Inc., and be involved in other aspects of computing.

Wang 2200 Personal Computer
Wang 2200 PC

Tom was asked to submit two proposals to his commanding general at the Training and Doctrine Command, located at Fort Monroe, Virginia for running the Army's management/communications system. The first proposal was to continue things the way they were for an elaborate sum of money. Having grown up on a Michigan farm where money was tight, he did not think this was a good way to spend taxpayers' money. His second proposal was to use Wang 2200 personal computers to analyze and communicate. This project could be done for considerably less money. His commanding general picked the second project and put Tom to work on it.

The project was not without its problems. Most of the people in the Army's data processing department considered the project undo-able. To them, it was just easier to maintain the old system, despite the high cost to the taxpayers. The new system seemed like a threat to the way the Army had always done things. It wasn't long before Tom discovered that the opposition was not just from people. He would see new reality in Ephesians 6:12:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Before long, Tom would discover that the building he was working in was haunted by various evil beings who also did not want this project to succeed. He had learned from his pastors and other teachers the following concept:

As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come. (Proverbs 26:2)

As Tom began to research the history of Fort Monroe, he would find that many untoward actions occurred there including murders. Originally, the British built Fort Algernon on the site. This fort was used to bring the first slaves into America. This event alone was enough to bring a major curse on the area.

The United States Army built Fort Monroe after the War of 1812 to protect the Chesapeake Bay area from future incursions. It was an outpost early in the Civil War that the Union used to attack Confederate forces in Eastern Virginia. In those days, it was called Fortress Monroe. It also became a place where slaves went to receive their freedom under the "contraband" decision made by General Benjamin Butler in 1861. It later became the home of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) until decommissioning. Fort Monroe remained an official post in the United States Army until 2011 when it was turned into a National Monument.

The results of these activities and many others brought curses to the area. With curses come various types of evil spirits. Tom was not the only person who experienced these evil beings. One female civilian employee refused to work alone in the building because of all the apparitions. Other employees also experienced various types of spiritual manifestations they could not explain. They made it clear to Tom that something needed to be done.

Finally, one night when Tom was working alone, he encountered the worst of these evil spirits. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit worked inside of him and he commanded those evil spirits to leave the building in the Name of Jesus Christ. The evil spirits responded to Tom's commands and left the building. Later, when Tom returned to work on the same project several years later in the same building and the same office, the evil spirits that haunted the building were still gone. Even the old, rusty sign in front of the building that used to creak every time the wind blew on it, was suddenly quiet.

Looking back, Tom began to realize that the management/communications system he developed became the backbone for the modern Internet. Over the years, the Army connected all of its units to this system, then added the other service branches to the system (Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard), and finally, the defense contractors that did business with the military services. In time, this system (with many modifications) became the communcations arm for the Internet. This brought worldwide communications to the common man. Suddenly, Christians from all over the world could connect and minister to each other. While a lot of evil still comes off the Internet, the Lord has used it for a considerable amount of good.

When Tom completed this assignment, he was sent back to West Germany to implement the new system there. When he got there, the Army promoted him to Major. Even so, he would still find resistance there. Click here to read about his adventures in Europe.

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