History and Social Aspects of the Internet and its Creation

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History and Social Aspects of the Internet and its Creation

[[This is an unfinished draft for an abandoned Chapter]]


The history of the Internet is usually portrayed as a linear development that was initially driven by military needs, but taken over by the needs, or play, of programmers or hackers1. In this 'traditional' history the needs of the people become dominant and win out against the needs of the State. As is perhaps most elegantly formulated by Burstein & Kline: the Internet is "perhaps the only mass communications medium in history that has not descended to the people from on high, but rather has emerged largely from the people spontaneously, from below" (1995: 103)2. This is, as we shall see, largely not the case.

Thus early net-based histories tend to focus on eccentricities of personality and the oddness or independence of people's behaviour, which allows the net to be percieved as arising from the kind of democratic anarchy that people used to (and to some extent still do by comparison with the embedding society) experience using the net3. In this story development of the Net appears to arise through the exploitation of loopholes and the clash of personality. These histories do not pay much attention to the overwhelming early use of the ARPANET by the military (which is revealed by how diminished it was when the military separated from it), or the sheer number of corporate based computer networks, and their expansion, over almost the whole period, or the volume of State expenditure in this field. Clearly this emphasis served a political, ideological or identity creating purpose in demonstrating the freedom of programmers from external imposition and restraint, and perhaps removing the unease of accepting the imperatives of those for whom they actually worked. The discourse of net history has been governed by the rubrics of individualism and futurity, which are among the most popular ways of describing capitalism and technology. Though there might be much accuracy in this position, it is not the only story.

The History below attempts to portray the development of the Internet as a more complex series of events, an intersection of developments and perceived needs in the Military, Corporate, Academic, and State spheres and their interaction with technical developments and the desires and visions of programmers. In this way the history of the Internet becomes part of a series of independent developments focusing around communication using computers, rather than simply following a direct line of descent from the ARPANET. All of these developments tend, themselves, be concerned with speedy control of widespread operations, and with processing huge volume of information to aid in that control and to facilitate response. This is, of course, not to argue that any mode of generating order or control might not generate its own form of chaos. The Internet, in this approach, becomes a product of processes within the wider society, and feedbacks into the possibilities of that society, rather than being an independent development that determines the future of that society in one set of ways.

The Five Cultures

Essentially the Internet grew out of the intersection of five different cultures and sets of demands. These cultures were Military, Corporate, Academic, State bureaucracy and Programmer or Hacker. All were bound together in conflict and co-operation. The mutual support of the Military and the Corporate sectors in the US is a subject of some degree of folklore, the "military-industrial complex" (first named and warned against by President Eisenhower) were blamed for the assassination of President Kennedy in Oliver Stone's film about the assassination for example. Paul Edwards prefers the term "iron triangle" to refer to the union of the Military, the Corporate and the Academic worlds (???). Academic researchers founded companies or organisations to make use of defence funds and many of the same people served in various capacities in the DOD hierarchy. It is certainly the case that, as Norberg and O'Neil remark, "People flowed easily among these universities and industrial and research organizations and among the projects each organization worked on" (1996: 289, 26). For example J.C.R. Licklider worked for MIT, BBN, IPTO, and Project MAC; Robert Kahn worked for Bell, BBN, IPTO and Telenet, all of which were interlinked in the research and exploitation of the technology.

Huge amounts of defence money (over 1 trillion dollars in less than 40 years according to some estimates {H.Schiller 1996: 62}) have been spent by the US Military in the Corporate sector. The 1995 Republican Congress who are markedly pro-corporate and cut back government spending on the general populace voted more government money to the military than had been requested - largely to support shipyards.

Though these sectors are comfortable together, and can happily trade some personnel, it is as well to remember that they do not have the same requirements or the same objectives and we shall consider them separately. The US State apart from its largely independent military arm, and the academic dominated National Science Foundation seems to have had little coherent input into computer networks until recently. Different departments would engage in different ventures. However the State has continually supported computerisation, being perhaps the largest single customer for computer supplies and data connection. Nevertheless the time of the greatest development of telecommunications has tended to be a time in which Western English speaking governments have divested themselves of the control of the communication system through privatisation and a general "hands off attitude". It must be wondered if the theories of the "forthcoming information age" did not motivate the corporate sector to encourage this retreat.

The culture of "hackers" (meaning in this case the culture of a self perceived elite of computer programmers), is a supposedly carefree, wild, anti-authoritarian, computer loving, pizza/sugar/coffee consuming, body-denying culture, emphasising technical prowess and with its own idiolect and rites of acceptance. However there is the problem of how much the portrayal of this culture is exaggerated by the awareness of, or deliberate repression of, their connection to, or dependence upon, the military. Was this uncontrolled side a manifestation of a culturally constructed 'id' in opposition to the rationality of the corporate and military worlds? If such was the case, then was a fantasy of freedom actually necessary to propel the work of programming, or was it an attempt to create status as independents- "we are so important that we can violate your norms"? Hacker culture as a culture of prowess, perhaps has tendency to elitism. Hardy (1996) sees the initial ARPANET community as village like and informal in its customs, but Vallee, who had contact with it, writes it was:

guarded by the puffery of high priests, the sanctity of passwords and confidential phone numbers, the ARPA Network thinks of itself as the very exclusive province of a few geniuses

(Vallee 1982: 116)

Perhaps both reactions are possible.

In some ways the wider culture's perceptions as scientists as either 'cold and rational' or 'mad and eccentric' may have some effect here as well. People (including hackers) know how the role of 'creative' people 'works' within a system that emphasised dependent and dependable regularity.

The culture of programmer hackers at MIT is probably the one that has been written about most (i.e. Turkle 1984, Levy 1994) and though they did not work on the construction of the ARPANET an anecdote might be interesting.

From 1962 onwards work at MIT's artificial intelligence laboratory was funded by ARPA, and some student protests in 1968 and 69 were aimed at the labs for this very reason. It appears that the hackers argued that this was just another example of their being misunderstood by outsiders. They denied that their work could have military applications and some considered that being sponsored by ARPA was better than being sponsored by the Departments of Commerce or Education as that "would lead to thought control". The administrator of the lab had steel doors constructed for the lab and rigorously controlled entry. People who had previously considered locked doors an affront yielded meekly (Levy 1994:130-33, See Turkle 1984: 232-3 on Hackers and locked doors). This story (and it is only one story) may indicate that a certain level of denial and display was constitutive of some aspects of hackerdom.

Turkle talks of a cohesive self protected culture (1984: 212) a culture of loners who are never alone (ibid: 213), of people who need to feel autonomous of the rules of 'straights' and yet need to feel indispensable and are thus dependent upon those straights (ibid: 214). It is a world were mastery over the (machine) system is important and to be guaranteed. A problem with a computer program can always be worked through and solved, problems with people in the wider culture cannot be.

It is not surprising that this culture could produce cooperation with the military through denial and through seeking loopholes through which they could do "their own thing" thus proving their freedom to themselves.

However all reports from hackers involved in these programmes indicate that ARPA often did not interfere directly with the work the programmers were doing for them, and largely appeared to leave people alone4. It would be interesting to see whether the people who administered the projects thought differently. When Lawrence Roberts refused to work for IPTO, the director of ARPA rang Lincoln Laboratories to remind them where their funding came from (Hafner & Lyon 1996: 47).

The Military Origins of Computers and Networking

Electronic computers originated during the Second World War in attempts to solve problems which required exceedingly large numbers of calculations such as code breaking and anti-aircraft gun accuracy. Perhaps the most important military factor in developing communication between computers, and which ultimately resulted in what we know as the Internet, was the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war. Due to the US policy of 'containment' and of perceiving the World wholly in terms of two camps, the US military was faced with an enormous front - which increased problems of communication and coordination. Because of the low warning time that would be available if attacked, and the huge front along which an attack could occur the military had to be on constant alert. Speed of response, speed of processing of information about potential attacks, and speed of communicating the decision to attack or respond became more important than at any previous time. Similarly the devastating effect of a "winning technology" had been illustrated with the atomic bomb.

For the first time in history large amounts of money were issued by the State to further military research to deal with these problems. In 1938 the total US budget for military R&D was 23 million and constituted 30% of all federal R&D. At the end of the war in 1945 the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) under Vanevar Bush spent $100 million, the Army and Navy together spent $700 million and the Manhattan project consumed more than $800 million. After the war US military R&D was 30 times its prewar constant dollar level and comprised 90% of all federal R&D. There was a minor cutback in US military research after the war, however reactions to the cold war eventually increased the amount spent on research (Edwards 1996: 52). The significant event is usually considered to be the launch of Sputnik, which lead to Eisenhower founding the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) as part of the Department of Defense (DOD). The main function of ARPA, according to Norberg & O'Neil, was to prevent "technological surprises" and to "serve as the mechanism for high-risk R&D in cases were the technology was in its early stages and where the technical opportunities crossed the military department role and mission lines" (1996: 5)5.

For its first eighteen months ARPA was responsible for ballistic missile research and the space program, but these were transferred to various parts of the military and the newly formed NASA (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 8). ARPA had to rewrite its charter and one of the most important factors in the framing of the new charter was "perhaps a recognition inside the DOD of shortcomings in command and control systems. By 1960 the DOD recognised that it had a problem with respect to large amounts of information requiring timely analysis and ARPA received the task of examining how to meet this need". Computers were considered to be useful to process information, to help decision making, and for control of weapons (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 9). The incoming President Kennedy also called for improvements in command and control in March 1961. To pursue the use of computers in command and control ARPA formed the Command and Control Program, which became the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) in 1962 (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 10, 12, 304).

Though the British had made Colossus, the first working digital computer, and the Manchester University Mark 1 was the first successful computer that carried a program in its internal memory (Edwards 1996: 62), the immense difference in amounts of money available makes the story of computers primarily American. Kenneth Flamm estimates that in 1950 the government spent between 75 and 80% of the money spent on computers in the US. This expenditure had definite commercial effects- when IBM built their first production computer the 701 (finished in 1953) it had letters of intent from 18 department of defense customers (q Edwards 1996: 61). IPTO began with a $9 million budget, and ended in 1986 with a $175 million budget (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 55, 20-1).

The prime problem for the military after the second world war was that of defending against long distance bombing raids particularly raids using nuclear bombs. All previous air wars had shown how difficult it was too defend even a small area against determined air attack. Furthermore radar could not see beyond the horizon or detect low flying planes so any warning of attack was minimal. US Commanders estimated that even excellent defenses could only prevent 30% of planes from reaching their target. In this case, if the enemy used nuclear weapons, it would be almost certainly be too late to retaliate after they had attacked. The air force decided that "real security lay in offensive capability". Probably as early as 1948 the US Air Force had developed a doctrine of preemptive strike against the USSR (Edwards 1996: 84-6). Speed, co-ordination and failsafe checking was essential to detecting an attack or coordinating a response. Even before the War's end Army ordinance and the Air Force had commissioned Bell Laboratories to study defence against high altitude bombers. This had resulted in the Nike Missile project, which linked analog computers and radar to guide the missiles to their targets where they would be detonated by remote control. Installation was completed in about 1954 (Edwards 1996: 87).

However this system was not considered adequate and in 1949, before it was finished, the Air Command moved to develop what became the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) defence system6 This was the first large scale computerised command, control and communications system, the "first major attempt to combine computers and telecommunications" (Lubar 1993: 148) and it was this project that boosted the prospects of digital computers. Most previous computing had used analog machines.

One of the first general purpose digital machines, arising out of the Whirlwind project at MIT, had been promoted to the Navy as a general purpose simulator. However the Navy were impatient with the slowness of results and finances were drying up despite the Whirlwind group making colourful descriptions of the effects of their computer applied to every area of military activity. George Valley from MIT and head of the Air Defense Systems Engineering Committee recommended in October 1950 an upgrade of air defence and "the use of computers to handle surveillance, control and bookkeeping functions" (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 70-1). Valley heard about the Whirlwind project from a colleague and decided to recommend it to the Air Force. MIT then convinced the Air Force of the potential power of digital computers and the use of a centralised control point for the defence system, while at the same time threatening to stop helping the Air Force if analog computers were used on the project (Edwards 1996 90, ???, 97). The project began in 1951 becoming known as SAGE in 1954 (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 71).

To work with any degree of success the project needed to coordinate data from thousands of radar sources, calculate flight paths and compare these with known flight paths in fairly short periods of time. The system required reliable and speedy communication from the sources of data to the sector computers, communication and transfer of data between sector computers, as well as high operating speeds in the computers (Edwards 1996: 91). The Air Force Cambridge Research Center had just developed a method of digital transmission of data along phone lines and this was the technique that was used. Not only did this method solve the transmission problem but also the analog to digital conversion problem (Edwards 1996: 92, 101). Communication between SAGE centres relied on commercial AT&T phone lines, perhaps setting a precedent (Edwards 1996: 106).

By 1952 it was obvious that the main systems worked and IBM was commissioned to make a production version of Whirlwind. The first SAGE sector was opened in June 1957, the full 23 sectors were opened by 1961. IBM built 56 SAGE computers at $30m each! [check this] about 20% of its workforce worked on SAGE projects. The project cost "some $61 billion" (Lubar 1993: 315). This contract, in some ways, made IBM a computing company. More than half IBM's income during the 50s came from military sources. IBM also applied what it learnt from the SAGE project to design the first commercial real time transaction system for airline reservations (Edwards 1996: ??? 102, 391). Corporate use of military money to not only fulfil military contracts but support their own production became common.

SAGE was rendered worthless by the ICBM and obsolete by the integrated circuit, yet parts of it functioned until 1984. SAGE centers were built above ground at SAC bases implying that the Air Command never intended to use it as defence and relied upon making the first strike (Edwards 1996: 108, 110)

Most of the enthusiasm for defence as opposed to preemptive strike came from the civilians who moved the research and experiments in that direction (Edwards 1996: 95, 98)

Edwards argues that military hierarchy usually depends upon responsibility and initiative, in such a way that people are told to do something and then left to do it. During the 1950s people in the Air Force believing in this kind of organisation where replaced by believers in centralised and computerised command. The reason, according to Edwards, was that they realised SAGE could be used for control of offence. Missiles might even replace aircraft- and this fitted into the Air Force belief that their ability to strike first was the ultimate defence. However this was a process that met with opposition, and military commanders conducted something of a media war against increasing computerisation of command (Edwards 1996: 72). Even ARPA thought that "application of automation is threatening to usurp the commander's role". This conjunction of the concepts of command and control only occurred in the late '50s (Norberg & O'Neil 1966: 11, 9). Another possible reason for the decline of military initiative might be that they came under increasing command of a civilian sector that believed in business management methods and models.

Similar systems to SAGE were built for NATO and Japan. The Strategic Air Command Control System was the first major system programmed in a higher level language. In 1962 SACC. was expanded to become the World Wide Military Command and Control System, with a global network of communications channels including satellites, theoretically allowing centralised real time control of American forces worldwide. This was used extensively during the Vietnam War. Ultimately the early warning systems were all linked with computers at the NORAD base under Cheyenne Mountain (Edwards 1996: 107).

The Next Stage: ARPA and IPTO

There were military problems with the SAGE system, as enemy attacks on the nodes could destroy the functionality of the network. The airforce commissioned the Rand Corporation to research this problem and Rand issued 13 reports, mainly written by Paul Baran7, in August 1964 describing a "Distributed Adaptive Message Block Network" which avoided central nodes so that the destruction of any individual node would not stop the system. Eleven of the Reports were made public, the two remaining reports on potential weaknesses and cryptography were classified (Norberg & O'Neil 1966: 160, 328). In August 1965 Rand made a formal recommendation that the airforce proceed with such a network, and a special committee also recommended proceeding but nothing happened (ibid: 161). This seems to have been largely because of opposition from AT&T (Hafner & Lyon 1996: 64).

The Rand reports are described by Hauben & Hauben as follows: (See also IEEE Transactions on Communication systems CS-12, 1 march 1964 p1-9) [[the non secret parts of Baran's reports now on the Web]].

Baran outlined the principle of 'redundancy of connectivity'... The report proposed a communications system where there would be no obvious central command and control point, but all surviving points would be able to reestablish contact in the event of an attack on any one point. Thus damage to a part would not destroy the whole and its effect on the whole would be minimized.

One of his recommendations was for a national public utility to transport computer data, much in the way the telephone system transports voice data. 'Is it time now to start thinking about a new and possibly non-existent public utility,' Baran asked, 'a common user digital data communication plant designed specifically for the transmission of digital data among a large set of subscribers?'.... The 11 reports he wrote were the first published description of what we now call packet switching.

(Hauben & Hauben 1995: chp 8 np)

Thus it was conceptually possible to build a network in which each computer 'Node' was able to originate, pass and receive data in "packets" to other computers, so that if one computer could not send the data to its target, it could send it to another computer which might have a connection to the target, or which could send it to yet another computer. Using this system it was theoretically possible for packets of the same message to take differing routes to their destination. When the packets arrived at the target they could be reassembled into the original data.

While Baran was writing his reports Licklider, the director of IPTO, was also interested in promoting Networking, though it appears he was primarily interested in a system to share software and programming resources at different sites, to avoid duplication of research effort, rather than in communication between humans. Hardy describes Licklider's "Memorandum to Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network" of the 23rd April 1963, as conceptualising a network between ARPA supported research sites "as a means of providing greater access to computing resources in order to expand innovation in the ARPA research community" and he adds "If there existed any interest in direct communication or social interaction over the network, early documentation produced by IPTO does not reflect it" (Hardy 1996: np).

As Lawrence Roberts, would later remark in 1989 in an interview with Arthur Norberg, "We had all of these people doing different things everywhere, and they were not sharing their research very well. So you could not use anything anybody else did. Everything I did was useless to the rest of the world, because it was on the TX-2 and it was unique machine." (q Hardy 1996: np).

Licklider was also influenced by what he perceived as command and control problems saying in an interview in 1992 that "command and control essentially depends on interactive computing and there isn't any interactive computing so the military really needs this. I was one of the few people who, I think, had this positive feeling toward the military... they really needed it and they were good guys" (q Edwards 1996: 267). The military had definite plans of their own for using computers in this way, what Licklider contributed was an understanding and promotion of time sharing and of AI as a help in decision making8. Systems Development Corporation (who had worked on the SAGE project) was given six months to produce a working time sharing system (Edwards 1996: 269, Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 91-4). Early versions worked well enough for the research to continue and the full system was ready for military use in late 1967 (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 112). To some extent Licklider threw money at time sharing research and interactive programming until the problems were solved, despite some opposition from computing companies and experts. By 1967 twenty separate companies were offering commercial time sharing services (Taylor 1990: np, Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 106-7, 105).

Various experiments in networking were funded by ARPA through IPTO, However there were considerable problems getting different computer centers to cooperate. Initial projects at UCLA and MIT failed (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 156, 158). Some commercial Networks were up and running by the late 60s (some of the research sponsored by IPTO) but these only connected specific brands of machines (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 162, 329).

Robert Taylor, the third director of IPTO, began the full network program at IPTO in 1966, bringing in Lawrence Roberts to supervise. IPTO viewed the network as a "natural extension" of time sharing. Roberts wrote that "networks connecting dozens of such systems will permit resource sharing between thousands of users", or more specifically between the main IPTO contractors (ARPA, Program Plan No. 723, "Resource Sharing Computer Networks," 3 June 1968. q Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 155, 163).

In April 1967 work began on the conventions to be used in connecting computers and it was suggested that incompatibilities between different machines could be overcome by using a uniform secondary computer (an 'Interface Message Processor' or IMP) between the main computers and the network (Salus 1995: 20-1, Hafner & Lyon 1996: 72-3). It is clear from an article written by Licklider and Taylor in 1968 after the decision to use IMPs had been made that the model of transmission they had in mind was a "store and forward" system that would work like a telegraph exchange (Licklider & Taylor 1990: 28, 29-30).

Meanwhile in the UK Donald Davies of the National Physical Laboratory independently proposed a system similar to the one proposed by Baran in the 1964 RAND Reports. In March 1966 he presented his scheme at a seminar and heard about Baran's work from a member of the Ministry of Defence. Davies introduced the term 'packet' in June 1966 and built a prototype network using packet switching at the NPL (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 161-2). Roberts heard a paper in October 1967 on the work in the UK, and learnt for the first time about Baran's papers. He arranged a meeting with Baran, and in the proposal for the ARPANET made in June 68 described the ARPANET as an example of the system recommended by Rand (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 166).

ARPA budgeted $500,000 for the projected network in 1968 and in July details were sent to 140 potential bidders. Twelve proposals were received and the contract was awarded to Bolt Beranek & Newman (BBN)9. The contract for laying the lines had already been awarded to AT&T by the Defense Commercial Communications Office (Salus 1995: 26-7).

Enter the Hackers

While BBN commissioned the computers to make the IMPs from Honeywell, and did the design and programming themselves (Hafner & Lyon 1996: 103-36), the people in charge of connecting the mainframes at the four University sites were graduate students. Reports from the time suggest the specifications the students were given were fairly vague.

The Network Working Group (NWG) made up of representatives of the four proposed host sites (it originally seems to have consisted largely or totally of four graduate students10) met with BBN in Feb 69.

Stephen Crocker one of the graduates on the NWG from UCLA wrote "We found ourselves imagining all kinds of possibilities -- interactive graphics, cooperating processes, automatic data base query, electronic mail -- but no one knew where to begin." (RFC 1000, See also Salus 1995: 29-30)

The four original ARPANET nodes were connected between November and December 1969 and involved the Networks Measurements centre at UCLA, the Stanford Research Institute, UCSB and the University of Utah. All four nodes were connected by dedicated cable, and Utah was the first site to enable remote logging in from other sites (Ellison q Hardy 1993: np).

The first Request for Comment (RFC) on Host software had been issued in April 1969 by the students working at UCLA. The idea was to put forward propositions not as fiat but, in the words of Crocker:

We had accumulated a few notes on the design of DEL and other matters, and we decided to put them together in a set of notes. I remember having great fear that we would offend whomever the official protocol designers were, and I spent a sleepless night composing humble words for our notes. The basic ground rules were that anyone could say anything and that nothing was official. And to emphasize the point, I labeled the notes 'Request for Comments' (RFC 1000).

RFCs are now issued by the Internet Activities Board and document the standards and discussion about the way the net is to be run.

AT&T laid cables across the country to the East Coast and in July 1970 they provided a dedicated connection between BBN and RAND, though for some reason Salus claims that Burroughs in 1971 was the "first truly commercial site" (Salus 1995: 61, 63).

Military Usage Again

ARPA's work was now influenced by political needs. In 1969 Senator Mansfield added a rider to the DOD authorization bill for 1970 stating "None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be used to carry out any research project or study unless such or study has a direct or apparent relationship to a specific military function or operations" (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 36). Though this amendment was not repeated the Nixon administration insisted that military R&D focused on military missions, and Congress demanded more accountability11. The director of ARPA George Heilmeier also pressed IPTO to be mindful of military usage. Programs were subject to greater scrutiny and were restructured or re presented. "In the 1970s, command and control was still considered the key to effective utilization of the armed forces" and IPTO wished to extend ARPANET to satellite and radio to provide a mobile distributed network. (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 18-9, 37). ARPA approved a packet radio programme in May 1972 and a satellite program around the same time. The military wanted to convert to an all digital communication system, and it was thought that a uniform packet switching system might make this feasible.

The initial protocol allowing communication between host computers, the Network Control Program (NCP) protocol, was developed by early 1971 but was not very effective. Not only was it useless for radio or satellite transmission, but if any one node received to much traffic the whole network would collapse- so people simply agreed to keep it functioning by not sending too much data (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 169, 173). Not surprisingly this was not acceptable to ARPA and the director of IPTO Robert Khan decided that a public demonstration of the ARPANET must be given at the October 1972 First International Conference on Computer Communications, in Washington (it had been announced in RFC 371)12. A node was set up in the conference hotel with 40 machines running off it. According to Salus the demonstration persuaded people who were otherwise sceptical, that the system would work (1995: 70).

The InterNetwork Working Group (INWG) was created to begin discussions for a common protocol and Vinton Cerf, who was involved with UCLA ARPANET was chosen as the first Chairman. The vision was proposed for an international interconnection of networks- "a mesh of independent, autonomous networks interconnected by gateways, just as independent circuits of ARPANET are interconnected by IMPs" [uncertain source q Hauben & Hauben 1995: ch8: np], and using the same protocol. Cerf went to work for IPTO in 1976 and the protocols he and his coworkers (notably Robert Kahn) developed between 1973-78 to try and overcome the different kind of protocols used in satellite and radio transmission, and to link ARPANET to the various other networks, became known as TCP/IP (Hafner & Lyon 1996: 222, 225, 236, Salus 1995: 99-102).

In 1973 the first non American machines were temporarily connected by satellite, and then by low speed line. These latter being University College London (RFC 588), and the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway. IPTO and the airforce agreed to organise a program to help software development in the DOD through the ARPANET in winter 73-74 (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 187). IPTO and the Navy sponsored a project called the Advanced Command and Control Architectural Testbed beginning in 1976, it extended ARPANET to include special military computers and new security arrangements. It was also used to test AIs, and for war games but ARPANET proved too slow. IPTO ended its involvement in the project in 1982 (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 189-91).

ARPANET was transferred to the Defense Communications agency in July 1975 and there was increased pressure to make it useful. TCP/IP was implemented. A demonstration of the use of Satellite, mobile packet radio and ARPANET acting together was made under Cerf's direction in July 1977. He later recalled that "the packets were travelling a 94,000 mile round trip... we didn't loose a bit". This stability eventually lead to the military deciding to make TCP/IP their preferred protocol (Cerf & Aboba 1993: np). In 1982 the DOD formed the Defense data Network to expand and deploy the ARPANET for military use, and in 1984 the DOD separated MILNET from ARPANET to provide a separate non experimental network with access to ARPANET (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 184). When MILNET split off only 45 out of 113 nodes remained on ARPANET (Hafner & Lyon 1996: 249). By 1987 MILNET consisted of more than 200 nodes worldwide (ibid: 195). MILNET had satellite links to Europe (Germany?) and to military bases in Japan and Korea (Salus 1995: 194-6, 124-6).

In 1977 after several years experience with email the US Army Material Development and Readiness Command reported "This is a major new medium of human communication and interaction, with a very positive impact on the way we do business" giving them the ability to "coordinate complex actions among many people, independent of geography" (Norberg & O'Neil 1996: 195).

Social Life Develops

Mail between users on the same machine had been common for some time. One of the most important early systems (possibly the first) was that used on MIT's Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) which originated in an attempt to find some way of the computer operators telling people when lost files had been retrieved. According to one of the programmers of this mail system, Tom Van Vleck, "CTSS had many users, even in the mid 60s, who were not local to MIT" who would dial in over ordinary phone lines.

CTSS MAIL was the ancestor of Multics mail (which I also wrote the initial version of), and Ken & Dennis & the Bell Labs folks used both of these mail programs, and so it is quite likely that this was the inspiration for the Unix mail command.

Van Vleck adds:

mail annihilated time as well as distance.

Its immediacy of delivery enabled interactive collaboration; but if people were on different schedules, they could still work together.

Academic, personal, and professional communication were each at least as important as operational

(Van Vleck pc 25/6/97, 27/6/97 see also CYHIST 19/2/97)

The first local area network mail was developed by BBN in 1970. As Hardy writes "early email can be viewed as an extension to the pre-existing technology of local computer mail by means of the brand new technology of network file transfer.... It was, according to one ARPANET user studying at MIT at the time, 'totally an afterthought' " (Hardy 1996: np). Ray Tomlinson claims he:

sent the first email message across the ARPANET in 1971...'The first message...,was sent from myself on one computer to myself on another computer and its content was completely forgettable; probably 'qwertyuiop' or 'Testing 1-2-3.'.'. The second message... announced the availability of network email and gave instructions on how to address mail to users on other machines by suffixing '@
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History and Social Aspects of the Internet and its Creation iconThe course is designed to provide you with a thorough grounding in and advanced understanding of Russia’s social, political and economic history in the period under review and to prepare you for the exam

History and Social Aspects of the Internet and its Creation iconThe course is designed to provide you with a thorough grounding in and advanced understanding of Russia’s social, political and economic history in the period under review and to prepare you for the exam

History and Social Aspects of the Internet and its Creation iconThe course is designed to provide you with a thorough grounding in and advanced understanding of Russia’s social, political and economic history in the period under review and to prepare you for the exam

History and Social Aspects of the Internet and its Creation iconThe course is designed to provide you with a thorough grounding in and advanced understanding of Russia’s social, political and economic history in the period under review and to prepare you for the exam

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