Wes Kussmaul

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In 1981, the first online encyclopedia was the Kussmaul Encyclopedia, as seen in this Delphi menu from 1989.

Wes Kussmaul, author of several books about online security, is the founder of the Kussmaul Encyclopedia, the first online encyclopedia.

In 1971, while stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base (SAC), Kussmaul received a degree in physics from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri. After his military service, he became a systems analyst at Liberty Mutual, developing mainframe database applications. His positions in sales management for Gould Incorporated, Benson SA and Tektronix, Inc. and his territory in the Cambridge, Massachusetts research and development community put him in contact with the pre-web Internet pioneers.

Kussmaul Encyclopedia[edit]

In 1980, Kussmaul developed the Kussmaul Encyclopedia which came complete with its own computer system.[1] Kussmaul's online encyclopedic database cross-referenced topics by employing an early example of hypertext.[2] In 1981 he founded the company that became Delphi. Located at 3 Blackstone Street in Cambridge, Delphi was first known as Kussmaul Encyclopedia.[3] In 1982, it featured the ASCII-based encyclopedia, chat, email, newswires and bulletin boards. On March 15, 1983, the Delphi name was first used by General Videotex Corporation. Delphi also carried the Grolier's Online Encyclopedia, which by 1989 had 31,000 entries.[4]

One of the contributors to the Kussmaul Encyclopedia was Dudley M. Marchi, who wrote these Kussmaul entries in May 1984: "Thomas Pynchon," "Harold Pinter," "The Beatles," "John Fowles," "John Lennon," "Michel Foucault."[5]

Kussmaul recalled:

Delphi was actually launched in October 1981, at Jerry Milden's Northeast Computer Show, as the Kussmaul Encyclopedia--the world's first commercially available computerized encyclopedia. (Frank Greenagle's Arête Encyclopedia was announced at about the same time, but you couldn't buy it until much later.) The Kussmaul Encyclopedia was actually a complete home computer system (your choice of Tandy Color Computer or Apple II) with a 300-bps modem that dialed up to a VAX computer hosting our online encyclopedia database. We sold the system for about the same price and terms as Britannica. People wandered around in it and were impressed with the ease with which they could find information. We had a wonderful cross-referencing system that turned every occurrence of a word that was the name of an entry in the encyclopedia into a hypertext link--in 1981! (Phil Macneil gets credit for that one.)[6]

As Delphi's CEO, Kussmaul launched a spin-off company, Global Villages, Inc., to provide magazine publishers with the tools and information that allowed them to offer online services to their subscribers and advertisers under their own name.

After Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation bought Delphi in 1993, Kussmaul sold the hosting portion of Global Villages Inc. to a partnership that became part of NTT Verio, an operation known as The Village Group.

The Authenticity Institute[edit]

Wes Kussmaul developed The Authenticity Institute in conjunction with his two books: "Quiet Enjoyment" and "Own Your Privacy" (PKI Press). All three are a response to the architectural flaws of the internet that make identity security difficult[7] and an impending authenticity inflection point,[8] which demonstrates a paramount need for authenticity among internet users.

Wes Kussmaul is currently the CIO and CEO of The Authenticity Institute, a business incubator that focuses on commercial, non-commercial and non-profit enterprises that promote authenticity of identity online. The Authenticity Institute and its members produce Quiet Enjoyment Infrastructure (QEI). QEI is the construction of 'safe spaces' online where users can operate without worry of identity theft and manipulation.[9] QEI is a form of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) that uses personal assertions of identity, attestation of identity by a public authority, and a set of 'keys' for encrypting and decrypting information which are controlled by the user in order to create and ensure these 'safe spaces'. Currently, there are four members of The Authenticity Institute that directly contribute to QEI:

  • Reliable ID: A commercial branch of notaries that attest to assertions of individual identity.
  • The City of Osmio: Provides duly constituted public authority, backed by the International Telecommunications Union, to all attestations of identity.
  • Authentrust Inc: For mid- to large-sized identity management software enterprises. Authentrust ensures the identity of people who are given access to their networks.
  • Internet Child Protection Inc: A non-profit that verifies and makes known the age and gender of all site users.


Kussmaul's books about online privacy and security include Quiet Enjoyment (2004), Own Your Privacy (2007) and The Future Needs You (2007).

See also[edit]


External links[edit]