[ih] Fwd: nomenclature

Noel Chiappa jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu
Wed Dec 23 14:53:44 PST 2009

    > From: Dave CROCKER <dhc2 at dcrocker.net>

    > This seems to move the source of the term to the Arpa office.

I dipped into Hafner and Norberg/O'Neill, to see if they mentioned it, but
no luck, although leads from them did allow me to close the time window a

Norberg/O'Neill referred to Robert's memo, "Message Switching Network
Proposal", from April 24th (?), 1967, written shortly after the initial PI
meeting on the topic at the University of Michigan, which I was lucky
enough to find a copy of online, at:


and it does not mention 'host' anywhere. Similarly, Roberts' later papers,
"Multiple Computer Networks and Intercomputer Communication" (published
September 1967, although apparently written some time before that) and
"Resource Sharing Computer Networks" (published June 1968) don't mention
the term either - although it is possible it had been used before then,
and Roberts just didn't like it... (been there, done that myself... :-).

So it seems that the origin of the term dates from around when those two
papers were written, and in any case before the RFQ on 29 July, 1968.

    > Or is it more likely that it was a researcher -- or group of --
    > whispering in their ear?

The positive data I can contribute on that is that the ARPA people _were_
definitely talking to researchers about the network well before the RFQ:
e.g. the idea for the IMP (as a separate, dedicated packet switch, as
opposed to running the lines directly to the mainframes) was from Wes
Clark, at that University of Michigan meeting the year before.

Norberg/O'Neill describe (pp. 164-169) a number of working groups
involving researchers which met extensively through the summer of 1967, so
yes, they were a key part of the group which led to the RFQ contents.

You'd probably have to ask someone like Larry Roberts or Bob Taylor to get
an answer with a high probability of being correct.


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