[ih] Lessons to be learnt from Internet history

Jack Haverty jack at 3kitty.org
Wed Feb 20 13:08:57 PST 2013

On Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 10:39 PM, Jack Haverty <jack at 3kitty.org> wrote:

> I was one of the first round TCP implementors, who all did a series of
> the early implementations, with identifiers like TCP2.5, TCP2.5+, etc.
>  You couldn't distinguish these variants easily from packet contents -
> you had to know what version the other guy was using.  That was OK for
> demos and experiments.   I did the Unix TCP, Dave Clark did Multics,
> Bill Plummer did Tenex, Bob Braden did IBM, Jim Mathis did MOS, Dave
> Mills did Fuzzballs, etc. (Who did I forget...?  Sorry...)

Several people reminded me of names that I didn't remember:
- Dick Karp at Stanford on a PDP-11/40,
- Mike Wingfield at BBN on a PDP-11/70 (how could I forget - he was
sitting a few feet away from me in the computer room!),
- Gary Grossman / John Day at Illinois on Unix
I'm not sure which version of TCPIP was used in these implementations.

My list of names was from my recollection of the series of meetings
and trials in the 77/78 timeframe, which was when
TCP2.x was evolving into TCP4, and in particular the first V4
implementations appeared that were able to interoperate.
There were certainly implementations of TCP before that timeframe,
leading up to 2.5, as well as many afterwards,
as TCP4 got widely deployed.  My list is not complete.

The 77/78 timeframe seemed like an interesting milestone since that's
arguably when the TCPIP V4 that we still know
today came into existence - the process and progress of that "birth of
The Internet" pretty well documented in things
like IENs 69, 70, and 77.  In particular, the series of "bakeoffs"
where different implementations were connected for the
first time was a crucial part of the process.  I was recalling the
people who were arrayed in offices along a hallway at
ISI over a weekend, trying to talk to each other.

The value of that process seems, IMHO, to be one of the lessons
learned.  One of Jon's comments in the minutes observed that the
specification was as likely to be changed as the implementation as we
tried to achieve interoperability to finalize the
spec which became IPV4.   The mantra "Rough Consensus and Running
Code" ruled, but the bakeoffs where the mechanism
for smoothing out all those rough edges to create a usable specification.

Perhaps some historian will compile a timeline of all those early
TCP/IP implementations?   There's a lot of data in the IENs et al, but
I've never encountered any place where it's all pulled together in a
cohesive way to show the genesis of the Internet.


More information about the Internet-history mailing list