mailing list archives
Re: NSF and the Birth of the Internet
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 12:12:03 -0400
Begin forwarded message:
From: Dave Crocker <dhc2 () dcrocker net>
Date: August 19, 2008 10:43:12 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Cc: ip <ip () v2 listbox com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Re: NSF and the Birth of the Internet
Reply-To: dcrocker () bbiw net
> From: Miles Fidelman <mfidelman () meetinghouse net>
????: First LAN connected to the ARPANET
Probably PARC. Probably 1974-ish.
????: CSnet linked to the ARPANET
Since we already had email gatewaying running for the Army Materiel
Command, at UDel, it was a small matter to start adding CSNet sites,
as soon as NSF (and Arpa) authorized it.
Also: My article about Rand's email work cites the role I believe
CSNet played in the creation of NSFNet, and the role NSFNet played in
the technical and operational style of the modern Internet.
> From: "David P. Reed" <dpreed () reed com>
> But the idea
> that *Ray Tomlinson* gets the credit for electronic messaging, when
> Englebart did what he did is insane.
My understanding is that single-machine email was invented with the
first time-sharing system at MIT in the 60s.
I lived on Engelbart's NLS system, and indeed it was fabulous. Mouse,
structured text, powerful editing, dynamic linking. But it was single-
Ray invented "networked" email.
Nothing provided an early demonstration of the massive reality in the
concept of network effects as did scaling email from one machine to a
wide area network service. That's why Ray received the IEEE Internet
award in 2004.
> From: Jim Thompson <jim () netgate com>
>> Also the word "gopher" appears nowhere in the timeline, although
>> couple of years it WAS the Internet...
> No, it wasn't.
While the question of how users perceive(d) the Internet can always
get bogged down in the definition of users, metrics, or period of
time, the role of gopher was fundamental.
The Arpanet/Internet lived with "anonymous" FTP as its public
publishing method for 15 years. As the Internet approached mass-
market scale, a better mechanism was needed and various folk
experimented with different approaches. For nearly 5 years, gopher
In 1990, I was giving a half-day Internet introduction to some phone
company folk, as part of a week-long seminar at CMU. I included a
gopher demonstration, letting the class make selection choices, as we
navigated from a page that divided the world into regions, until we
finally got down to a page for the Wellington New Zealand Town Council
and found a pointer to the Town Council minutes.
At that moment, I finally understood how big an impact the Internet
would have. A non-technical group was publishing mundane, non-
technical information for non-technical use. If they were doing that
then, everyone else would too. And by "everyone" I realized it would
be literially everyone in the world.
As the Web started to gain traction later, there was some question
which of the two technologies would win. Gopher was far easier to
publish, since it took any ol' text file, whereas the Web required
specially-created files. On the other hand, the Web was multi-media
and it let you give useful information to users with every key-click.
With gopher, useful information was only at the leaves, and not the
intermediate navigation nodes. No embedded links.
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