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Re: NSF and the Birth of the Internet
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 14:44:21 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: Daniel Dern <dern () pair com>
Date: August 19, 2008 12:58:58 PM EDT
To: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Cc: ip <ip () v2 listbox com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Re:        NSF and the Birth of the Internet


On Tue, 19 Aug 2008, David Farber wrote:

"Wendy M. Grossman" <wendyg () pelicancrossing net> said

Yes. I used gopher back then but it was a painful experience, and it was very little of what I or anyone I knew did online. It might be reasonable to say that for a time Usenet was the Internet - even though Usenet didn't
really require the Internet to exist.

As one of the early Internet end-user book authors (along with -- preceded by -- of course, Brendan Kehoe, Ed Krol, John Levine and others), let me replay the core short-list pre-Mosaic/Web, which is also what, IIRC, I saw while at BBN in the 80's: email, file transfer (FTP), telnet, and Usenet. (to ignore/oversimplify protocols, was it ARPAnet, CS-Net, "the Internet,"
etc.).

"Layering" on top of these came navigitional/organizational/directory apps&databases, e.g. archie (for FTP sites), and a, ahem, host of front/back end things like Hytelnet, WAIS, Gopher, et c., which meant a user needed to know or remember less and less facts (but a little more about the UI, and still a bunch of what the heck they were trying to do).
The WWWeb was only one of dozens of contenders.

Gopher wasn't necessarily painful, speaking as someone who started with a gopher site, hand-coded; that depended on how the site was set up, and what you wanted to do. A lot of what made the Web succeed (I'm saying this in retrospect) was the ability to embed clickable links within documents, graphics, etc.

As for whether or not "Usenet was the Internet" in the soul of a new
network sense, I'd argue that it was the combination of a short list of public and private mailing lists, e.g. human-nets, Risks, sf-lovers, and others, and ditto some Usenet newsgroups, e.g. rec.humor.funny, some net admin groups, plus major FTP archives...and (speaking here
as an outsider) a lot of the IETF groups and meetings.

But back (I think) to the main point: I'll agree that there's a lot to the
Internet's backstory that still hasn't been properly recorded or
acknowledged. Perhaps there's some good site to start aggregating all these stories to...

Daniel Dern
dern () pair com
www.dern.com
www.TryingTechnology.com












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