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Re: more on the birth of the internet -- J C R Licklider
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2008 10:33:31 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: "Bob Frankston" <Bob19-0501 () bobf frankston com>
Date: August 21, 2008 10:28:06 AM EDT
To: <dave () farber net>, "'ip'" <ip () v2 listbox com>
Cc: "Arthur Evans Jr" <EvansSL21 () earthlink net>
Subject: RE: [IP] more on the birth of the internet -- J C R Licklider

Lick was an acoustic psychologist who got interested in computers as he used computers as a tool in his research at an acoustics company – BBN (according to a recent conversation with his son). MIT’s Project MAC looked at people and computers a whole – not just the technology in isolation though the relationships with the technology seemed to dominate.

Remember that in those days computing was very expensive. Lick was an advisor for our efforts to make computing more available to students for projects of their own choosing.

As to network history, don’t forget about Louis Pouzin and his efforts in France. I just looked him up on Wikipedia and discovered that he’d worked on MIT’s CTSS and played a key role in giving us the command shell on Multics and thence Unix.

It’s a reminder that computers and networks are means and not the end in themselves and to understand the history of the technology we need to understand the rich interactions of people and ideas. I find these accidental interactions fascinating though I don’t know why I remember details like seeing the name of Dave Farber on a SNOBOL III manual from the 60’s. For that matter there was also Art Evan’s PAL (Pedagogical Algorithmic Language).

As we debate policy issues let’s not forget that what we see today are the results of people’s design decisions and accidents of history and that we can revisit these decisions rather than accepting them as the only possible path.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Farber [mailto:dave () farber net]
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 09:08
To: ip
Subject: [IP] more on the birth of the internet -- J C R Licklider



Begin forwarded message:

From: Arthur Evans Jr <EvansSL21 () earthlink net>
Date: August 20, 2008 9:31:36 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Re: [IP] more on the birth of the internet

For IP if you like.

I was glad to see J C R Licklider's name mentioned on this thread.

In the early 60s I was a graduate student in what was then Carnegie
Tech, now Carnegie Mellon. Along with many other institutions we had
an ARPA contract to do various kinds of research. Periodically (I
think it was yearly) ARPA gathered all of the Principle Investigators
to share ideas. One year Alan Perlis, my advisor and our PI, was
unable to attend and sent me. And it was there that I heard Lick
extolling his vision of the Intergalactic Computer Network.

Now, graduate students, particularly ones just starting, know that
they know much more about things than do their seniors, and it seemed
clear to me at the time that Lick's ideas were a bunch of hooey. Well,
sigh...

He was right, of course, and I was wrong, and I'm glad to admit it
here. Lick had the vision, at a time when the state of research didn't
provide much justification for it. We all owe a lot to that vision.

Art Evans




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