The Origins of the Internet

I’ve got a number of books on my “To read” list, most which were given to me as part of my birthday or as random gifts. One of them which was gifted to me by Tom Croucher from my Amazon wishlist (as a thank you for help in his dissertation, I believe). The book is Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet, and it’s one of my favorite non-fiction computer-related books.

The book is a relatively detailed study of how the internet came to be: the development of the theories behind it, the actual hardware, the proposals from the Defense Department for the creation. The origin of RFCs, the way TCP/IP was invented, things like AlohaNet and ethernet as well.

It’s because of this book that I still carry around Vinton Cerf’s business card, which I obtained at a 10th anniversary discussion of Mosaic. Ever since I acquired the card, I was fascinated with the design that was printed. I then planned on getting some for my business from with exactly the same layout. Cerf was there discussing the idea of an interplanetary internet and how it would work. I was there drooling at the fact that I was in the same room as Vinton Cerf, and actually got up on stage afterwards and shook his hand. I keep that thing well – it used to be in my wallet, now it stays seperate – because it means that much to me, and it was inspired by this book.

So, a big thank you to Tom for the book, and a suggestion that you all go out and read it.

3 Responses to “The Origins of the Internet”

  1. rho Says:

    I remember from my time on Usenet, the tales from the venerable Old Farts, about how back in the good old days, messages would frequently take hours and even days to propagate. This was always cited as one of the important reasons for decent quoting and attribution; propagation was a whole lot better by the time I discovered Usenet for the first time in ’97 but still far from perfect.

    If we had some sort of an interplanetary internet, then propagation time would become a fact of life again. People would grow to understand, by necessity, that if a Jovian posted a message, a Neptunian and a Venusian would both be able to see the message and write a considered and thought out reply well before either had seen the other’s reply. “First comment” weenies would have to face up to the fact that it’s even dumber to do when the playing field is so uneven.

    I’d like to think it would promote some sort of level of Clue, but I realise that may be a tad optimistic. At least it would allow you to use the phrase “I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner, but the laws of physics prevented me from doing so.”

  2. Philip Newton Says:

    Thank you for the recommendation! That sounds exactly like the kind of book I’d enjoy, so I’ve ordered it now.

  3. The Origins of the Internet Says:

    The Origins of the Internet

    The Origins of the Int…