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Wasn't the internet a product of the US government?

No. At least not the one that has useful stuff on it. Companies selling it to consumers and consumers/businesses putting stuff on it is what made it such a resounding success.

The internet created by the government was just a network connecting research labs together.

depends on whether you think creating a small research network is a bigger contribution than the billions spent by the private sector to build it into what it is today.

having an idea or even a reasonable prototype is often not the hardest part of building something useful.

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