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Re: NSF and the Birth of the Internet
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 18:16:18 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Vint Cerf <vint () google com>
Date: August 19, 2008 5:57:11 PM EDT
To: Jim Thompson <jim () netgate com>
Cc: Karl Auerbach <karl () cavebear com>, Dave Farber <dave () farber net>
Subject: Re: [IP] Re:    NSF and the Birth of the Internet

Karl et al,

Dec 31 1974 would have literally the date of the first TCP spec, RFC 675. I don't think I began working on the BCR stuff with NSA until 1975 and Blacker came later.

Is it possible you are off a couple of years, Karl? we didn't split IP off until 1977 with version 3 and then version 4 of TCP/IP.


On Aug 19, 2008, at 4:37 PM, Jim Thompson wrote:

On Aug 19, 2008, at 6:11 AM, Karl Auerbach wrote:

David Farber wrote:

From: Jim Thompson <jim () netgate com>

Thanks for the nice summary of things gone past.

There was at least one other branch of internet development, but one that tended to occur in the shadows. See for instance http://www.fas.org/irp/program/security/blacker.htm

From about 1972 to 1980 I was part of a group at System Development Corporation (SDC) in Santa Monica that worked on network security and secure operating systems. Our fearless leaders were Clark Weismann and Jerry Cole and the core of our group was Frank Heinrich, David Kaufman, and myself. Vint Cerf was a consultant to our group and we worked with a lot of the UCLA crew (particularly when we turned UCLA Data Secure Unix into a real-time partially verified network communications engine.)

I think Larry Wall (of 'rn', 'patch' and 'perl' fame) was @ SDC as well.

Take a look at the following URL for a photo of a a blackboard when Vint and I worked late into the evening of Dec 31, 1974 on the insertion of an encrypting security layer between IP and TCP - http://www.cavebear.com/archive/cavebear/photos/tcpip.gif (I really do need to do a better re-scan that 35mm slide.)

1974? Thats interesting, because Jon Postel wrote in Aug 1977 (IEN #2): "We are screwing up in our design of internet protocols by violating the principle of layering. Specifically we are trying to use TCP to do two things: serve as a host level end to end protocol, and to serve as an internet packaging and routing protocol. These two things should be provided in a layered and modular way. I suggest that a new distinct internetwork protocol is needed, and that TCP be used strictly as a host level end to end protocol. I also believe that if TCP is used only in this cleaner way it can be simplified somewhat. A third item must be specified as well -- the interface between the internet host to host protocol and the internet hop by hop protocol."
I'd love to hear Vint's take on the events of 12/31/74.
We did a lot of stuff that has never really been seen - Very early TCP implementations with security layers between IP and TCP, key distribution protocols, security controllers to moderate network connectivity, proof-of-correctness of limited aspects of operating systems and protocols.

Much of our work was done for certain government agencies, both in the US and UK; some reports were published under the auspices of the US Nat'l Bureau of Standards some by the UK's RSRE. But since those were days of paper not much of that material has found its way online and has thus become some of the lost pre-history (written about by Vernor Vinge in Rainbows End.)

Another branch is the creation of the software that made using the net possible - BSD Unix at UC Berkeley and PC/IP by Romkey and Bridgham at MIT being two examples.

And the Interop trade shows, started by Dan Lynch as technical conferences in 1987 - http://www.cavebear.com/archive/cavebear/Interop/ace-87.gif - created a very rich place where a prodigious amount of practical interoperability testing happened. Those shows created a metronome that forced a lot of technology to come out of the labs so that it could be deployed in the growing network.

And before the IETF one of the main gathering points for discussion of network ideas were the ACM SIGComm meetings. I still remember the amazed sounds that came out at a meeting in Mexico City when Yogan Dalal explained that Ethernet would have a 48-bit address.

We tend to dismiss the ISO/OSI work. However, a lot of good brains put a lot of good ideas into those seven layers. (There is a lot of gold yet to be mined from the ideas of ISO/OSI.) In addition, it created a competitive environment that forced the IP based world to become more professional and product oriented.


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