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The Internet Technology

Who Really Invented the Internet? 497

jaymzter writes "The Wall Street Journal is running an article that it claims seeks to dispel an urban legend about the internet: 'The creation of the Arpanet was not motivated by considerations of war. The Arpanet was not an Internet.' The position of the piece is that it was Xerox's contribution of Ethernet that enabled the global series of tubes we know and love today, and what's interesting is that the former head of DARPA supports this claim."
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Who Really Invented the Internet?

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  • by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Monday July 23, 2012 @02:50PM (#40739775)
    A general wiring specification is hardly on a level playing field with creating the internet. That's like saying Xerox's mouse created the PC. A nice piece of the puzzle perhaps, but not credit-worthy.

    Why exactly do we need to pay continual homage to Xerox? To create more urban legends instead of dispel and dismiss them?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @02:57PM (#40739897)

      "Why exactly do we need to pay continual homage to Xerox?"

      In this case, it's because Barack HUSSEIN Obama (D-Kenya) gave credit for the Internet to the gov't. So OF COURSE the Wall Street Journal has to contradict that claim because Barack HUSSEIN Obama can't be right about anything ever-- especially when it comes to claims that the gov't did something good.

      If Obama said the sky was blue, the WSJ would undoubtedly publish a story questioning it. Why, just the other night the sky was pitch black! Is there nothing Obama won't lie to the American people about?

      • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:07PM (#40740069) Homepage Journal
        I thought this was solved years ago when we all got together and gave Al Gore the credit?
      • "Why exactly do we need to pay continual homage to Xerox?"

        In this case, it's because Barack HUSSEIN Obama (D-Kenya) gave credit for the Internet to the gov't. So OF COURSE the Wall Street Journal has to contradict that claim because Barack HUSSEIN Obama can't be right about anything ever-- especially when it comes to claims that the gov't did something good.

        ding ding! We have a winner.

        • by mozumder ( 178398 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @04:19PM (#40741207)


          The final answer is: Government invented the internet, no matter what the dangerously right-wing Wall Street Journal falsely believes.

          Seriously, the WSJ loves business too much. It needs to learn that business are the MOST dependent on government. The richer you are, the more dependent you are on government, since a larger portion of your wealth derives from government activities.

          A poor person does not need a highway system, schools, or an army. Poor people do not give a fuck.

          A rich person needs a highway so their employees can get to work and deliver products to customers. They need schools so their employees can read instructions. They need armies to control resources. They need courts & police to enforce these rules.

          ALL of government was designed to make people rich, and this is why we liberals tax the wealthy more than the poor. It used to be a nice 70% income tax rate for the rich, before Reagan gave all the dumbassess a false sense of hope that they too can be rich if they work hard. Um no, not everyone can be rich. Dumb people cannot be rich, no matter how hard they work. And, rich people need to pay the benefits of dumb people, so that they can continue to be rich.

          The smaller government, the poorer the people. The bigger the government, the richer the people.

          Meanwhile, the worst part is the SEO-optimized headline "Who really invented the internet" that'll cause Googlers to reach this page, falsely thinking that businesses somehow invented the internet. Someone really needs to un-SEO this article.

          • by Pentavirate ( 867026 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:58PM (#40742561) Homepage Journal
            So I have a question that maybe you can answer.

            The vast majority of new businesses fail in this country. So if you have 2 businesses in a business park. One is wildly successful and the other goes bankrupt after a couple of years. The same road runs in front of both businesses. They both have the same mail service. They both have the same internet piped into their office suites. Who is PRIMARILY responsible for the business that succeeds? Is it the government or the owner?
            • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:40PM (#40744105) Homepage

              So I have a question that maybe you can answer.

              The vast majority of new businesses fail in this country. So if you have 2 businesses in a business park. One is wildly successful and the other goes bankrupt after a couple of years. The same road runs in front of both businesses. They both have the same mail service. They both have the same internet piped into their office suites. Who is PRIMARILY responsible for the business that succeeds? Is it the government or the owner?

              I pose a question in response to your question: What about the business in Somalia that never got off the ground because there were no clean roads, no mail service, and the bribes to keep the warlords from stealing all of your good and killing your workers is too high.

              The fact is, without the fundamentals, establishing a successful venture is astronomically more difficult - how many successful large-scale businesses existed in the middle ages (which is pretty much what Somalia looks like today, but with modern weaponry)?

              Yes, the successful business owner deserves credit - just nowhere near as much as Wall St. (and their lackeys in office) think they do. Take that same business, move them to Somalia (hell, even some run down parts of major metropolitan areas), and give them a week or two before the venture completely implodes.

      • by cfulton ( 543949 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @04:23PM (#40741253)
        Score 5 funny, Score 100000 true. I think Obama should just start reading from the Republican Party Platform instead of giving speeches. "Read my lips, no new taxes" should be his slogan. The right wing would suddenly be in favor of new taxes and gun control.
        • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @04:35PM (#40741433) Journal

          I think Obama should just start reading from the Republican Party Platform instead of giving speeches. "Read my lips, no new taxes" should be his slogan. The right wing would suddenly be in favor of new taxes and gun control.

          It's already happened, numerous times.

          The White House presented a bill to congress asking for tax cuts for small businesses that hire US workers. It's something that was in the official GOP platform in 2010. Republican leadership in the House of Representatives refused to put the bill up for a vote. It was defeated, entirely on partisan votes, by the GOP-controlled committee it was brought before.

          As Norm Ornstein, the conservative scholar from the conservative American Enterprise Institute wrote in his most recent book, the Republican party has become "an insurgent outlier" which is "at war with its own government". Mr Ornstein makes it clear that the blame for the inability of our current government to address even the most basic issues lays entirely on the heads of the GOP. And that is why Mr Ornstein is no longer invited to the Sunday morning news talk shows. He used to be a regular on those shows, but opinions such as his do not fit the moral equivalence that the mainstream media prefers, where "both sides" are equally to blame.

          Of course, Mr Ornstein, who has been given awards by conservative groups, had been hailed as one of the intellectual greats of the American conservative movement, is suddenly an horrific traitor to the Right.

      • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:09PM (#40741923) Journal

        Exactly this. One should keep in mind that the Wall Street Journal is now nothing but a Murdoch rag.

      • Its eve worse for WSJ. While US government invented and financed underlying protocols (100%, no private company was involved), Web was invented by socialist (that is by European standards, which is more like "communist" for USA) research institute CERN, consuming billions of taxpayer dollars like there is no tomorrow. And on top of that, guy that invented WWW was not even doing anything related to his job (physics) that he was paid for by HARD WORKING TAXPAYERS, he was researching unrelated computer hyperte
    • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @02:57PM (#40739899)
      Perhaps because prior to Ethernet, most communications were either serial, or proprietary. They were the first standard and widely adopted interconnect protocol.
      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:12PM (#40740121) Journal

        Perhaps because prior to Ethernet, most communications were either serial, or proprietary. They were the first standard and widely adopted interconnect protocol.

        Not really relevant to the 'internet', though. Yes, there were some slow, and/or expensive, and/or dreadful networking mechanisms that were pushed out of the local network scene by ethernet; but the internet's interesting characteristics are all at higher layers in the network model, and can be run on top of all sorts of interfaces without any operationally visible differences. Ethernet pretty much dominates on the LAN side at this point; but large chunks of the internet on a wider area still run on non-ethernet interfaces of various flavors, and IP packets don't give a damn...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:29PM (#40740377)

        At a certain point of abstraction, we could say that there are dozens of ethernet-like specifications. Prior to all that is the idea of "Packet switching" pioneered by ARPANET. CYCLADES is another government funded (France) project using packet switching and with high influence over today's Internet.


        As a previous poster said, the article is just conservative propaganda.

      • by skids ( 119237 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:33PM (#40740429) Homepage

        Except that ethernet as a WAN protocol didn't emerge until well after the Internet was up and running. The Internet started on serial/TDM protocols, which by the way, were very standardized, albeit with the usual US/euro dichotomy.

        • by sootman ( 158191 )

          > ... albeit with the usual US/euro dichotomy.

          So there's, like, metric packets or something? :-)

      • by HuguesT ( 84078 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:39PM (#40740513)

        That and token ring, token bus, starlan, etc. Ethernet only became standard because it was cheap to wire and good enough. Collision detection in networks prior to ethernet switches was a performance killer.

    • Other notable inventions that have been misattributed:
      - Ogg invented the automobile (well, he used a roundish rock to move heavy stuff)
      - Alexander Graham Bell invented dial-up Internet
      - Hammurabi wrote the US Constitution
      - Pythagoras invented calculus
      - Newton invented the outhouse (let's face it, outhouses would suck without gravity)

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:03PM (#40740015) Journal

      The whole point of the Arpanet layer model is that you could pop any transmission technology you wanted into layers 1 and 2 and you could still get connectivity over disparate networks, providing layers 3 and up could be made to work. Ethernet is certainly common in LANs, but considering you can't get more than 500 feet without boosting signal, it's an absurd claim to state that Ethernet was the start of the Internet.

    • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:04PM (#40740029)

      A general wiring specification is hardly on a level playing field with creating the internet.

      Ethernet is not a wiring specification. In fact, there are several types of wiring that can carry Ethernet: twisted pair (most common today), coaxial cable (less common), fiber optic, and possibly others. Ethernet is about the protocols which transport data from one computer to another on the same local area network.

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:14PM (#40740175) Journal

        That's true now, but I'd invite you to go back and read the original Ethernet papers from PARC. They describe, among other things, a single (coax) wiring model, with support for up to 256 computers on a single broadcast domain sharing a 3Mb/s channel. Numerous parts of the specification are based on limits of the technology at the time, such as the number of RAM chips it was possible to fit on the board and the I/O speed of the Alto.

        The evaluation paper on the Alto, published in 1979, points out that it's possible to imagine a network of thousands of personal computers.

      • by skids ( 119237 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:44PM (#40740599) Homepage

        The only truly innovative contribution of ethernet was CSMA [wikipedia.org]. Which, by the way, is now only relevant on the WiFi edge. Don't give credit to ethernet where it is not due. Do give it credit for providing a cheap, PHB-friendly networking technology that was good enough to actually do the job, and flexible enough to be upgraded many times over. Also give it credit for mysteriously succeeding in areas where it sucks balls compared to the alternatives (e.g. laughably bad OAM, chunky scaling increments, no link-level channelization resulting in a litany of encapsulation/MTU problems, no in-band maintainance channel, and absolutely no supportive mechanism for low-latency real-time capabilities.) OK well, scratch that. The success isn't mysterious, it was perfectly sensible if you looked at the prices -- the mystery was really the failure of competing technologies to chase it on price.

        Oh, and give PoE credit for being an extremely well engineered, safe, and reliable power delivery add-on. But that's beside the point.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      A general wiring specification is hardly on a level playing field with creating the internet. That's like saying Xerox's mouse created the PC. A nice piece of the puzzle perhaps, but not credit-worthy.

      Why exactly do we need to pay continual homage to Xerox? To create more urban legends instead of dispel and dismiss them?

      ...twisted pair? ain't nothing to do with it. ethernet is ether -net. it's just a way to negotiate who transfers. perhaps the argument is that something like token ring isn't as suitable and cheap for large networks.

      I guess one could argue that perhaps it still was the government who _bought_ the internet.

    • Stupid quote is stupid: "It was at the Xerox PARC labs in Silicon Valley in the 1970s that the Ethernet was developed to link different computer networks. "

      Ethernet != Internet

      • Ethernet didn't even link computer networks. It linked computers *into* a network, but with a common collision domain you'd never be able to get more than a hundred computers connected. A few times that with bridges. Ethernet provides the nets which internetworking inters.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:25PM (#40740329)

      They invented the photocopier, basicly the first betaversion of filesharing, which is directly responsible for the trillinons of dollars the music industry! SO SUE THEM!

    • by thomst ( 1640045 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:09PM (#40741921) Homepage

      The poster has it wrong.


      Robert W. Taylor was never the head of DARPA. He was, however, the guy who proposed and ran the ARPAnet for DARPA, under Director Charles Herzfeld, until he left to become head of Xerox PARC. (Although he got the idea while J.C.R. Licklider was head of DARPA, Taylor didn't pitch it as an actual, fundable project until Herzfeld took over.)

      Taylor absolutely does NOT credit Robert Metcalfe (developer of Ethernet) for the invention of the Internet. Instead, he reserves the lion's share of the credit for himself. I know this, because he called me in 1994 to lecture me about what he felt were inaccuracies in a column I wrote for LAN Times about the origins of the Internet. (Specifically, he objected to my statement that the earlier RAND thought experiment on a nuclear-war-survivable, peer-based, packet-switched network was the basis for the development of the Internet.)

      You can read more about Licklider, Taylor, and others who were responsible for the devleopment of the Internet in my December 2000 Boardwatch cover story "They Might Be Giants" [starkrealities.com], if you're interested in the real story, as opposed to the WSJ's warm, stinky piece of journalistic shit.

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @02:51PM (#40739799) Homepage Journal

    "See, it was never the government who created the Internet. The Free Market (peace be upon it) did it all by its lonesome!".

    Color me shocked that a Murdoch paper's using that line.

    • Because it ran mostly on Ethernet, created by Xerox. Conservative logic!

      Why not go back to DuPont or whoever made the raw materials for the Ethernet lines then?

      • And the funny bit was Ethernet probably had the least amount to do with making a network of networks. At the time Ethernet was about the least used medium for long distance connections. It took 20 years before Ethernet started being heavily used for long distance connections primarily because it's cheaper not better but DWDM was able to carry it and work around some of it's flaws.

  • nobody (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @02:56PM (#40739893)

    Every generation of teenagers thinks they invented sex and music.... and the internet.

    We used to laugh at "al gore invented the internet" but the next generation of people will laugh at "zuckerberg invented the internet"

    The other problem is there is no "internet". No one thing you can point at. Who invented "the space shuttle" as one individual inventing one object is an equally dumb question.

    Another problem is best displayed by analogy. Who invented God? There's 10000 religions all saying they did, and the other 9999 got it all wrong and the 9999 others are all going to hell. Odds are all 10000 got it wrong not just 9999. Or another great analogy, at least to educated people: Who caused the decline and fall of the roman empire?

    • For what its worth, you have the God analogy backwards. No religeon claims to have invented God. Almost all religeons claim that God invented their religeon.
    • >>>Who caused the decline and fall of the roman empire?

      George Bush!
      Oooops sorry that was automatic. Um. Julius Caesar's son Octavian when he killed-off democracy by subsuming all power to himself and leaving the People and the Senate powerless. (It then took ~300 years for bad emperors to squander the accumulated wealth & turn a once-vibrant free market state into a feudal state.)

    • Who caused the decline and fall of the roman empire?

      Jeez, don't you need to read a huge 6 volume history book to figure that out?

  • Crazy Talk Follows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday July 23, 2012 @02:59PM (#40739927) Homepage Journal

    How about this: it was thousands of individuals, working both in the public and private sector on different pieces of the puzzle, when all taken together, who developed the Internet.

    And then it gets crazier: if any of those pieces were missing, the same problems would have been present, and they would have been solved in similar but slightly different ways. If not for ARPANET, perhaps Project Xanadu would have yielded a working model, and something like IP would have been developed to make the networking work.

    And to top it off: regardless, the state of the Internet at any particular point is largely a function of the available computing power. Moore's Law is highly resistant to challenge, and it's unlikely that any major change of players would have affected the outcome much. My BBS'ing days on a C=64 with a 300-baud modem might have had hypertext in the Xanadu model, but it still would have been an 8-bit experience.

    In summary: there are stupid questions, like "who really invented the Internet?"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by houstonbofh ( 602064 )
      I think the key is defining the internet. The traditional definition is a connection of disparity networks. To do that, you need two things; A compatible physical connection, and a compatible protocol. Prior to Ethernet, the only connectivity that was remotely cross platform was serial. And even that was not always consistent. Also, prior to TCP/IP, there really was no totally cross platform communication standard. Even serial had issues with endian, and ascii. Oh, yeah... And ASCII too.
      • TCP/IP is transport neutral. There were plenty of token ring networks back in the day, and quite a few multi-user internet nodes at smaller schools were single minicomputers connected by "high-speed" modem to larger schools that had real networks.

        But it was still "The Internet".

    • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Monday July 23, 2012 @04:02PM (#40740915)
  • Wait till I get that patent granted! The court cases will be held in that part of Texas which is forever patent-troll-land!

    ok, maybe not.

  • It invented itself.

    and each of us is merely a cell, at part of the body.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:03PM (#40740027)

    According to Wikipedia, the first two computer networks were connected together (to form an "internet", because that is what the word means) was in 1969, more than 10 years before Ethernet was invented. That means an internet proceeded Ethernet in existence. Ethernet was created as one means of transmitting networked data. It was not the only possibility: dozens of other standards could have been adapted for a de facto LAN standard (note the "LAN" part of that: Ethernet isn't even really part of the Internet per se). It did not invent it, it did not proceed it, and in fact it was not even necessary to the Internet's existence. Hell, the backbone of the Internet is fiber optics, not Ethernet.

    Also, I'm a little confused by them calling ARPANET "not an Internet" (not least because "Internet" shouldn't be capitalized in that context), since it was a connection of multiple networks together.

  • See Facebook, the iOS app store and AOL.

  • Yes, of course; wires up to a few hundred meters in length, THAT's why we have a network reaching 40,000,000 meters around the world.

    The guys bio suggests he knows at least a little bit about software (or at least running a software company) but he's obviously an idiot when it comes to hardware.

  • So, Robert Metcalf invented the internet!
  • by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:13PM (#40740149) Homepage

    'Internetworking' predated Ethernet by a long shot. One could argue that the UUCP network [wikipedia.org] was the progenitor to or perhaps the first incarnation of the Internet - it had file transfers, email, usenet news [wikipedia.org], and was a loosely-managed, cooperative network of systems across companies, universities, and government. It was mostly modem-based; those with dedicated leased lines were the envy of all.

    It was store-and-forward, explicitly routed, and relied on config files like this [mit.edu]. Contained within this example is my UUCP node definition from 22 years ago. I'm not tellin' which one.

    Speaking of ethernet, anyone else remember thick ethernet cable [wikipedia.org] and vampire taps [wikipedia.org]?

  • wasn't the whole idea of hooking up different networks into a common wider network (and the whole mesh thing) started by ARPAA Net??

    then of course .EDUs wanted to play (they had .mil contracts) and it kind of went from there

    Xerox invented The Internet like the guy that invented Asphalt invented the InterState Highway System

  • Xerox gets full credit for creating the Internet because they created ethernet and other computing ideas? If this is true what prevents me from using the same device to assign all credit to inventors of integrated circuits?

    Who did what is no mystery all you need to do is pick an RFC and look at the authors list. RFC 760 and 761 are a good place to start.

    As far as nuclear survivability my understanding is this was a mixed bag. Some people were pushing this very meme for political reasons and others had di

  • Didn't the Ethernet specs solve some problems such as collision sensing, retrys, etc.?

    Claiming Ethernet is 'just wiring' misses a big point. Without wiring, the Internet pretty much can't exist. Those three layers are essential. Before Ethernet, the options were a choice between awful and marginal.

    Does no one remember IMPs?

  • by bwintx ( 813768 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:24PM (#40740317)
    Good perspective here, IMHO:
    Ars Technica review of this op-ed [arstechnica.com]
  • by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:37PM (#40740487) Homepage

    http://w2.eff.org/Net_culture/internet_sterling.history.txt [eff.org]

    SF and S-fact author Bruce Sterling did a fine little "short history" essay back in 1993. It was not only "not just Xerox" or "not just government" or "not just private industry", it was "not just America".

    Note that 'Packet' is a very British term - and one of the really, really crucial developments was thinking of communications with packet-switching, not "opening a continuous line between sender and receiver".

    It's a classic Wall Street Journal piece: reasonable research and fact-finding, but then they have to put the spin on it. That predates Rupert Murdoch by quite a bit.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:37PM (#40740495)
    Even today, almost none of the connections between Internet nodes are ethernet. Your home broadband connection is not ethernet - it's DSL, cable modem, or fiber. Back in the day when most Internet nodes didn't have dedicated connections, they used dialup modems over POTS, not ethernet. Most dedicated connections used the X.25 network provided by the phone companies for dedicated data lines.

    What enabled the Internet was the idea of layering communications [wikipedia.org]. That way your applications saw the same packets coming from the network regardless of whatever software or hardware lay underneath. That is, rather than try to translate TCP/IP packet data into ethernet packet data, then translate that into DSL packet data, etc. for this post submission to get to slashdot, each layer just encapsulates the higher layer's data. So the TCP/IP packets never know they've been split up into 1542 byte chunks to be transmitted along ethernet to reach my DSL modem. They don't know they've been converted into whatever tortured protocol DSL uses, and so on all the way to slashdot's servers.

    You just have underlying layers treat the above layers are data streams. Then the higher levels (e.g. apps) can interoperate completely agnostic to what underlying layers are used. Ethernet was one of those underlying layers, so had nothing to do with it. Ethernet's simplicity and versatility had a lot to do with it being adopted at the hardware level for LANs (as opposed to, say, Token Ring), but it had nothing to do with the Internet.
  • by TwobyTwo ( 588727 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:43PM (#40740577)

    There's a lot of merit in this story I think, but ultimately it muddies the waters. Certainly, it's claim that government-funded research played a less than key role in the development of internetworking seems to be just plain false.

    First of all, the work Xerox did that most resembles the Internet protocols was not Ethernet, but PARC Universal Packet (PUP) [wikipedia.org], which is indeed quite directly comparable to the IP in TCP/IP. Ethernet, while a terrific piece of work, mostly served to facilitate networking within a single site.

    The article also says implies that the Government-funded ARPANET wasn't really the precursor of the Internet. I think that's an over-simplification. Arpanet wasn't the very first packet switching network (see the work of Baran and Davies), and it certainly wasn't an Internet (network of networks), but it really was the direct antecedent of the Internet as we know it. Arpanet connected universities and other research establishments. It proved the viability of a packet-switching network with all the application smarts at the periphery of the network. In almost all cases, what had been Arpanet connections among the early sites evolved (sometimes by way of NSFnet) to TCP/IP Internet connections, running essentially the same applications and services. So, in all those ways, Arpanet was a crucial step on the way to our TCP/IP-based Internet, and of course, ARPANET was government funded.

    A much less sensationalist but much more balanced history of all this can be found at: http://www.nethistory.info/History%20of%20the%20Internet/origins.html [nethistory.info] . The record there strongly suggests that Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf were discussing approaches to internetworking (connecting networks) in spring of 1973. Interestingly, the official PARC Research Report on PUP [bitsavers.org] actually cites the Internet work of Cerf and Kahn, specifically their 1974 A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication [princeton.edu].

    So, the government-funded work on internetworking seems to have started before the Xerox work, and the Xerox research time explicitly cited Cerf and Kahn as sources of inspiration for the Xerox work on internetworking. Wouldn't it be nice of the WSJ article made all that clear before everyone started using these over simplifications to prove the futility of government-funded research?

  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @03:49PM (#40740679)

    If you read nothing else, read the first and last paragraphs [following this one ;)].
    They address exactly what the OP brought up and why it is not accurate.

    Putting aside for just one brief paragraph whether Ethernet has led to the Internet,
    Ethernet was developed by DIX - Digital [Equipment Corporation], Intel, and Xerox
    in no particular order except that's the name they used. Bob Metcalfe -- cofounder
    of 3Com -- has lectured about this for ages, Don't confuse the network we use
    today (Ethernet II, 802.3, 802.1q, 10Base-T, 100Base-TX, 1000Base-anything, etc.)
    with the original Ethernet [I] spec. Always build on the works of other giants.

    Now back to the original claims. There were many networking standards, and IP was
    just one of them. Originally computers did not talk to many other computers, even
    in the same room. Original DECnet systems would each talk to one or more other
    systems, and would relay messages -- much as Usenet did to text.

    Ethernet was not the first bus-based network topology. Token-Ring was a strong
    competitor, pushed by the great might of IBM. Debates raged as to which was
    better, 4Mbps guaranteed-time slots (think like TDMA) or 10Mbps collission-detect
    carrier sense multiple access (CSMA) that guaranteed nothing. The rule of thumb
    was if you had two "stations" and one was transmitting a bitstream and the other
    was sending nothing you could APPROACH 10Mbps. If the two talked to each
    other then 5Mbps, and so on. The advent of full-duplex technology (10Base-T)
    moved the "bus" into the center of one device (a hub) from which spokes connected
    nodes. (You'll note that means it really is a star configuration).

    Original Ethernet ran on big fat cables. To connect to it you used a big clamp on
    connector with a "tooth" that pierced the outer insulation and hit the center conductor.
    Those were called vampire taps. Ethernet at that point was 10Base5. 10MBps, 500m.
    Then came "thinwire". Using BNC connectors, T-s for taps, and dual-connectors to
    extend, 10Base2 got us 10Mbps at 200m. That was pretty much it.

    Aside: around this time someone thought to resurrect token-ring but make it use
    expensive glass fiber that needed expensive splicing -- to power the "desktop!"
    This 100Mbps network was Fiber Distributed Data Interface.

    Anyway so now we come to the part where we have
    a. IP and TCP/IP
    b. A bus-based network to allow many to many communication
    And thus the ARPANET was born. It wasn't to fight a war, it was to do research.
    The US military -- reporting to the same US DoD that funded ARPA -- thought it
    was such a great idea they created a network called MILNET.

    The original systems used specialized computers running specialized code to be
    Internet Message Processors (IMPs). These complex one-of-a-kind systems are
    what today are outscaled, outpaced, outperformed, and outfeatured by a $50
    router running DD-WRT (not to mention WiFi)...

    The Internet did not exist because computers in one room could talk to each other
    via Ethernet. It exists because that one room could talk to ANOTHER ROOM in
    a far away place. Internet means "Interconnected Networks". One Ethernet in
    place A talking to one Ethernet in place B.... now THAT's interconnection.


  • The Facts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:48PM (#40744195) Journal

    1) "The Internet" was invented by Vint Cerf, Yogen Dalal, and Carl Sunshine who worked for Stanford University and issued RFC 675 "SPECIFICATION OF INTERNET TRANSMISSION CONTROL PROGRAM" [ietf.org], and they were funded by ARPA.

    2) Lots of other people and organizations developed lots of networks. ARPANET between University of California, Los Angeles and the Stanford Research Institute (funded by ARPA). There was also privately operated Telenet & Tymnet, and university lead MERIT networks as well as UUCP started at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    3) I worked for one of the first private Internet Service Providers - tt was also one of the first providers of dial-up shell accounts, and later had one of the first national DS-3 IP networks. When I started cold-calling people for web design, they often told me "My customers will never use the Internet" (if they even knew what the Internet was). Suffice it to say that a lot of very forward-looking private providers of capital made that company possible, and they all made a lot of money in the process, and that turned the Internet from something you tinkered with at University into something real.

    Also look at private companies like Cisco that made IP routing practical at large scales.

    So I will 100% agree that government funding of university researchers created the Internet. However it would have never gone anywhere without private money funding a massive expansion and buildout of it.

    Think university solar cell research funded by the government - good. Solyndra funded by government - bad.

    And it would have also gone NOWHERE if government tried to regulate early ISPs as roughly as it regulated the incumbent telecommunications companies. We could do pretty much whatever we wanted with little regulation or censorship.

Riches cover a multitude of woes. -- Menander