Casting the Net: From ARPANET to INTERNET and Beyond

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9780201876741: Casting the Net: From ARPANET to INTERNET and Beyond

A source of information concerning Internet's protocols and technical standards, this reference is concerned with the foundations of the superhighway.

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Review:

While brief histories of the Internet exist in many places, Peter Salus attempts to pull together the entire story. Beginning with George Stibnitz's demonstration of Bell Labs' complex calculator by remote terminal in September of 1940, Salus shows how this dauntingly complex technological achievement came into existence step by step, with thousands of small innovations in both hardware and software. It's unavoidable that the book is largely about technology, and there are several technical details and charts for those interested in the nuts and bolts of Internet construction. But even the technologically challenged will be able to follow the tale since it's largely about the people who made it all happen. Salus has gone back to the original documents and correspondence among the Net's creators and has interviewed such key players as Vinton Cerf, Bob Kahn, John Quartermain, Ray Tomlinson and many more. The picture that emerges encompasses the energy and thrill that went into the technical achievements--as well as many of the laughs and weirdness. Salus includes a number of the so-called Requests For Comments (RFCs) that were primarily used to spread technical developments but were occasional carriers of stress-relieving humor. RFC 527, "Arpawocky," is a terrific take-off on the "Jabberwocky," while RFC 1149, "A Standard for the Transmission of IP Diagrams on Avian Carriers," is an April 1st proposal to send messages by carrier pigeon.

From the Inside Flap:

At a time when the Internet has occupied the covers of bothBusiness Week and Time and every daily newspaper speculates on numbers of users and billions of dollars in "opportunities," when the President and Vice President of the United States have their own electronic mail addresses, and when the Supreme Court makes its dicta available via anonymous ftp, it is appropriate to look at the origins and development of this wondrous entity.

At the end of 1969, the ARPANET, the first packet-switching computer network, consisted of four sites. At the end of 1994, there were nearly four million hosts. While there is much discussion as to just how many users each of these hosts represents, the range is from a (conservative) average of three to a (flamboyantly unrealistic) ten: That is, from 12 to 40 million users worldwide.

Many tens of thousands of networks make up the Internet, which is a network of networks. Many of these networks are not full participants in the Internet, meaning that there are many applications which they cannot employ. In Neuromancer, a 1984 science fiction novel, William Gibson used the term "the matrix" for his cyberspace. John S. Quarterman employed the term in his 1990 compendium, and it has since come into common usage. I use the Matrix here to refer to all computers capable of sending and receiving electronic mail. Though not even a part of the original ARPANET, mail is now the prime application for the Matrix user.

Max Beerbohm once criticized Quiller-Couch for writing "a veritable porcupine of quotations." I recognize that the same indictment could be handed down against me. And that some of my "quotations" are not so much quills as battering-rams. However, some of them are feathers (or perhaps down comforters). There is general feeling that the inventors of technological wonders are deadly dull, that they have no interests outside their work, and that writings about technology are unreadable. And I admit that much of this is (selectively) true. So I have larded this history with lighter works: Len Kleinrock's and Vint Cerf's verse, as well as parodies by a number of others. And the final appendix contains Kleinrock's most recent verse and Cerf's future history in its entirety.

This book could not have been written without the active cooperation of many of the original participants. At the head of the list stand Vint Cerf, Bob Kahn, Alex McKenzie, Mike Padlipsky, Jon Postel, John Quarterman, and Dave Walden. They have tolerated my questions and supplied me with documents with humor and grace. I am beholden to Marlyn Johnson of SRI and to a number of staff members of Bolt Beranek and Newman for locating and giving me access to documents I would never have otherwise read: Ivanna Abruzzese, Jennie Connolly, Lori McCarthy, Bob Menk, Aravinda Pillalamarri, and Terry Tollman.

The assistance of the following is gratefully acknowledged: Rick Adams, Jaap Akkerhuis, Eric Allman, Piet Beertema, Steve Bellovin, Bob Bishop, Roland Bryan, Peter Capek, David Clark, Lyman Chapin, Glyn Colinson, Peter Collinson, Sunil Das, Dan Dern, Harry Forsdick, Donalyn Frey, Simson Garfinkel, Michel Gien, John Gilmore, Teus Hagen, Mark Horton, Peter Houlder, Peter Kirstein, Len Kleinrock, Kirk McKusick, Bob Metcalfe, Mike Muuss, Mike O'Dell, Craig Partridge, Brian Redman, Brian Reid, Jim Reid, Larry Roberts, Keld Simonsen, Gene Spafford, Hanery Spencer, Bob Taylor, Brad Templeton, Ray Tomlinson, Rebecca Wetzel, and Hubert Zimmermann.

Len Tower and Stuart McRobert have saved me from more gaucheries than I care to recall, as have the (anonymous) readers of the manuscript. Tom Stone and Kathleen Billus at Addison-Wesley have once again shepherded me successfully through the reefs from conception to production.

Much of the material in the Time-Lines is derived from that of John Quarterman and Smoot Carl-Mitchell, to whom I am grateful.

As I have neither a dog nor a cat, I can only (as always) thank Dr. Mary W. Salus and almost-Dr. Emily W. Salus for their niggling and carping, which has improved all my work over the past 25 years.

P.H.S.
Boston
January 1995 0201876744P04062001

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