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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- machine.

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 for a
>> 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 dominated.

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.


 Dave Crocker
 Brandenburg InternetWorking

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