[ih] Early FTP development in the ARPAnet

John Day day at std.com
Mon Sep 9 06:34:46 PDT 2002

At 21:04 -0700 9/7/02, Bob Braden wrote:
>I have not received or seen Neal's questions (Chris, what's going on?)
>but I do have some answers from the firing line.

You know, now that you mention it there was another reply that went 
by on this list a day or so ago and I would have swore I didn't see 
the original.  But at the time, I just thought I had zoned out 
deleting spam.  ;-)

>   *> >
>   *> >
>   *> >


>   *> >
>   *> >=20          a.)  How were decisions made?
>   *>
>   *> "consensus"  (and a lot of very loud debate).  Sometimes the decision=20
>   *> was based on a good punch line.
>   *>
>I agree with John Day here, except that sometimes (often?) the final
>decision many technical details were actually made by the person who
>wrote up the meeting notes or who next revised the protocol draft
>;-)  Sometimes I was surprised, often bemused, to learn after the
>fact what we had "decided".  But this was OK because the people
>involved were very smart, and unless they really screwed up we
>were content to accept their refereeing and get on with it.

O, absolutely.  (This is a phenomena I have seen often abused in many 
committee projects.)  Although, I don't think so much here.  Here 
really the problem was how little we really knew about each other's 
systems.  So sometimes what you thought was perfectly reasonable 

>   *> >
>   *> >=20          b.)  What meetings do you recall?  What was the mood of=20
>   *> >those meetings?
>   *>
>   *> Meetings were lively.
>Again I agree with John.  At this distance, I have only hazy recollections
>of most of the meetings, and depend mostly on the written record.
>No, I recall an very early meeting when magisterial Steve Crocker swept
>in on his flying carpet and gave one of his now-familiar
>back-to-fundamentals off-the cuff lectures, this one on what a file
>transfer protocol ought to do.  He explained he had written the notes
>on the back of an envelope during the train ride down (so help me!)
>Completely mathematical and abstract, of course.  But I was impressed
>and intrigued, in spite of the unexpected dunk into the cold water tank
>of Computer Science, when we were deeply engaged in heavy-duty
>   *>
>   *> >
>   *> >=20          c.)  How was everything organized?
>   *>
>   *> Around a table.
>   *>
>   *> >
>   *> >=20          d.)  Who did the talking?
>   *>
>   *> Everyone.  Transmission was distinctly full duplex, broadcast.
>   *>
>   *> >
>   *> >=20          e.)  What people stand out in your mind?
>   *>
>Various people took the lead on the ARPAnet FTP spec at various times:
>Abhay Bushan at MIT, then later Nancy Neigus at BBN, then Alex McKenzie
>at BBN.  I recall Alex as contributing a lot of protocol maturity and
>some really clever ideas, like the restart mechanism.  John Day brought
>in a late proposal for a file access protocol, which seemed like a very
>nice idea but terribly hard to implement with any generality in some
>OSs (like mine), so I lobbied against it (sorry, John).
>Steve Crocker (see above).  And of course the BBN guys were always
>doing first class work on the Tenex platform, and the rest of us
>scrambled to keep up.

Actually, I have an old ARPANet Protocol Handbook dated 1978 that 
lists the 16 people who were at the meeting.  I believe this list is 
in RFC 542.  If not, let me know and I will get it to you.

>If I thought more than 5 minutes, I would certainly think of others.
>My apologies to good friends from that era whom I have slighted.

Take care,

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