The NYT and news.com have up an article looking back at the NSFnet's influence on the development of the internet. From the National Science Foundation's gamble came the TCP/IP standard we know and love today; when NSFnet was shut down in 1996 it was apparently connecting some 6 million computers. The piece also talks about the (sometimes tense) relationship between private and commercial interests. "The Internet 'was an alien concept to the communication industry when it began growing.' While there was no risk for MCI, which was then an upstart trying to gain ground on AT&T, that was not true of IBM. The company played a crucial role in the development of the Internet, and it did so despite the fact that the new network was a direct competitive threat to its multibillion-dollar communications networking business, based on a competing standard known as Systems Network Architecture, or SNA."