Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet
||Author: Katie Hafner|
List Price: $14.00
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Publisher: Simon & Schuster (21 January, 1998)
Sales Rank: 37,910
Average Customer Rating: 4.54 out of 5
Customer ReviewsRating: 3 out of 5
A good book about the history of the net
This book tells about how the Internet as we know it today has come into existence.
In February 1966 Bob Taylor who was employed by the Advanced Research Project Agency located in the Pentagon, was in charge of three non-networked computer terminals, each terminal running a different operating system. Communications between the terminals was at that point in time impossible. Taylor set out to explore a way to get the three computers to talk to each other.
The political climate at the time was such that the Russians have launched sputnik into space (1957). President Eisenhower began ARPA as a research and development agency to rival the Soviet's advances in technology.
ARPA's mission was to find a way for (government-sensitive) information withstand an attack (from the Soviets) on the Pentagon.
Paul Baran joined ARPA. He was working on a way "to build communications structures whose surviving components could continue to function as a cohesive entity if the other pieces were destroyed."
Baran diagramed 3 kinds of networks in a paper he wrote. The three networks were, centralized, de-centralized and distributed.
Baran had another idea. To send information over the network, he suggested that the messages themselves be fractured. This was formulated into packet-switching.
Special computers had to be constructed in order to uses packet-switching. The software form these computers was build by a company called BBN. The hardware of the machines known as IMPs was built by Honeywell.
In the beginning there were four nodes on the network. Over time the amount of nodes grew to 115 - until senstive government nodes claimed their own network, MIILNET.
Through funding, the National Science Foundation helped get many more colleges and universities on the network.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Great intro. to the Internet,
I'm reading a series of technology-history books at the moment, this one, 'The Triumph of Ethernet' and 'how the Web was born'. This is definitely the place to start - a clear, fast paced tale of the various characters behind networked computers in late 1960's and 70's. Essentially this book describes the origin of human computer interfacing which became networking theory in the North East United States in the late 1950's and '60s.
The first computer network was called ARPANET, an outcome of inspired technology-development policy from ARPA -the Advanced Research Projects Agency, a part of the Defense Dept. The story is laid out chronologically without too much techspeak, and brings up a number of questions.
One question that seemed clearer to me at the end of the book was that ARPANET was the first mover towards internetworked computers, but from the story it is clear that it was a series of hardware computers which acted as 'routers' of information and that the heartbeat of the internet, as we have come to know it, is the communications protocol [called TCP/IP, specified by Vint Cerf, among others] which allowed the various messages to be interpreted by the different computers. TCP/IP and Cerf are almost incidental to this book, which is a pity.
Other topics covered are the initiation and development of E-mail and how the non-hierarchical, informal communications process among academics came to be the spirit of communications in the internet as a whole - something which is not altogether obvious from its origins in the Defense Dept. For me, the other big revelation was the speed of the adoption of the internet (even in days before the World Wide Web) and how the originators of the ARPANET were happy to allow it to be made obsolete by technological development. No one mentioned in this book seemed to want to (or know how to) commericialize the technology which they were working so feverishly to implement.
For those of a technical persuasion there are plenty of references to the various papers which moved the various technologies forward. This book is a great first taste for those who want to dip into the subject, gives a realistic description of the 'wizards' who had the weird and wacky ideas which we now rely on , and the text includes enough 'beef' to indicate how to dig deeper into the detail.
Rating: 5 out of 5
MOST EXCELLENT FOR NON-WONKS
Lots of information is conveyed with excellent editing making this book a very fast read. But AT&T's 6-year opposition to distributed processing is as appropriately treated -- without comment -- as the telegram sent by Senator Edward Kennedy's office to Boston-based BBN Corportation when the latter landed ARPA's contract for the Interface Message Processor: "Congratulations on your contract to build the Interfaith Message Processor."
This book's a beauty.
· How the Web was Born: The Story of the World Wide Web
· Fire in the Valley: The Making of The Personal Computer
· Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web
· Dealers of Lightning : Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age
· The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal