[ih] One man's view of Internet history

John Day day at std.com
Sun Aug 4 15:36:36 PDT 2002

A couple of quick comments and maybe I will get to a longer 
consideration later.

First, the Illinois group put Unix up on the net in the summer of 75 
and by the next spring we had a stripped down Unix running on an 
LSI-11 with a plasma screen and a touch panel that was also on the 

Bob is right about how we use to look down our noses at the mainframe 
systems!  ;-)  Anything that smacked of mainframes (half duplex, 
polling, etc) was regarded in much the same way that telephony 
solutions are regarded today!   But Operating Systems were our model 
for solving problems. One of the things I carried away from the 
excitement of those early protocol design was the ability of the 
group to take these dichotomies and find a true synthesis of them. 
It wasn't just one OR the other or smack the two together as most 
standards committees do today, but truly finding an abstraction that 
integrated the two.  I am afraid that we have lost that ability.

I was surprised to see in the 2nd edition of Radia's book something 
to the effect of "if you don't like NATs you should have gone with 
CLNP, it was in the routers and ready to go."  Hard to say what not 
handling that juncture right (whether the answer was CLNP or not) has 
cost us.  Emotions were running pretty high at the time.

The Europeans really killed OSI.  There is their general view that 
"if we build it they have to buy it." and designing to a point 15 
minutes in the future.  They were so intent on the idea that X.25 was 
the only answer to everything.  I can't imagine how we would have 
supported the web on such a thing. And it continues.  Look at 
Bluetooth from an architecture and protocol design point of view. 
(Something that even the articles critical of Bluetooth never touch 
on), it is one of the worse and most short sighted designs I have 
seen in 20 years.  WAP is the same!  (Someone gave me a paper on WAP 
and I looked at for about 10 minutes and said THIS IS VIDEOTEXT!) 
;-))  Was Pouzin's CYCLADES group the only ones who knew how to 
design protocols!?

However, there were some good results from the OSI work in terms of 
understanding some of the theoretical underpinnings of addressing and 
upper layer architecture.  And as you say, ES-IS was a good piece of 
work as was IS-IS.  However, since it was done there it has been 
pretty much lost, not even the academics have bothered to try to 
understand what was in there.  Although, I am told that much of the 
OSI management stuff has turned up in the SNMP work.  (Another of our 
mistakes.  HEMS had much more potential than either SNMP or CMIP.)

Take care,

At 14:37 -0700 8/4/02, Bob Braden wrote:
>   *> My own sense at the time was that OSI was effectively already 
>dead and that
>   *> the IAB decision was the final attempt to salvage something from it.
>Hardly!!  The IAB decision was based on the belief that OSI was
>inevitable.  We consoled ourselves with the ideas that (1) TP4/CLNP had
>it close enough to right for the essential architectural assumptions to
>survive, and (2) in a few ways OSI actually represented a better
>(later) engineering compromise than what we had (e.g., ES/IS combined
>ICMP with ARP, which seemed smart.)
>   *> there been a real, public process considering alternatives, it 
>is not clear
>   *> that CLNP should have lost.  The preemptive nature of the IAB decision
>   *> overwhelmed that technical discussion with an IETF identity crisis.)
>   *>
>Well, frankly I like the actual outcome much better, having the locus
>of technical development in the IETF rather than in ANSI or other
>government-centered standards bodies.  Of course, CLNP would have
>avoided IPv6, but we probably would have gone through a CLNP2
>transition long before this.
>   *> d/
>   *>
>   *> ----------
>   *> Dave Crocker <mailto:dave at tribalwise.com>
>   *> TribalWise, Inc. <http://www.tribalwise.com>
>   *> tel +1.408.246.8253; fax +1.408.850.1850
>   *>

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