No, it really wasn't.
The internet was invented to be an interesting communication protocol.
Later on, commercial entities and the general public got connected to it.
For a _long_ time, it was .edu (as latter became) only.
Imagining that the internet was destined to win, and there were no alternatives is revisionist history.
The internet very nearly didn't win, avoiding being relegated to a communications experiment that died likely sometime around 2000.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... - as an example of a competing service that lasted a long time, in the face of growing internet.
Aol, compuserv, and all of the other services didn't quite get joined up fast enough to make the internet irrelevant.
It was quite possible that this could have happened.
They decided that it was in their commercial interests to isolate their services, so that you couldn't email people on different networks.
This (amongst other similar issues) ended up killing them as other than ISPs when the internet took over this function.
If, for example, AOL, compuserv, Prodigy et al had gotten together and made it possible to email other services members, a prime reason for the explosion of the internet would have gone away.
Similarly, minitel could be a model of what the 'internet' might have looked like if the internet had not won.
It would be very, very different.
Network effects are _powerful_.