[ih] Any suggestions for first uses of "e-mail" or "email"?

Jack Haverty jack at 3kitty.org
Sat Aug 8 13:48:10 PDT 2015

On 08/08/2015 12:42 AM, Miles Fidelman wrote:

> Granted that the TCP/IP cutover happened 2 years before I got to BBN, so my exposure wasn't quite firsthand -
> but weren't the battles really between 1822 and X.25, and then TCP/IP vs. the ISO stack?  After all, 1822 and X.25 were both single subnet protocols, with no support for internetworking (and that IP runs over both of them, just fine).

Miles et al,

IMHO, its more revealing to view the battles as between competing
"ecosystems" rather than between protocol or interface designs and

By "ecosystem" I mean all of the things - technology, processes,
methodologies, and humans - surrounding the core mechanisms of
protocols, formats, and algorithms.

In the Internet ecosystem, we had:

- a complex distributed multi-computer system that we were building, and
also using every day while we were building it.  It had to work or we

- tools to watch what was happening, diagnose problems, and change
things quickly to fix and adapt; we built the tools because we needed
them to make things work which we needed to be able to do our work.
Things like ping, traceroute, SNMP, XNET, dig, etc., etc.

- from the early days of the ARPANET onwards, tools for rapid
collaboration, debate, and dissemination of ideas and results, good and
bad, with broad reach.  Things like FTP, mail, Gopher, USENET, etc.

- management who made key decisions, such as to:
	- keep the technical details open, readily and broadly available, and free
	- create (fund) implementations of core components and make them
available also.  Things like TCP implementations for many different
kinds of computers, along with the basic "apps" of mail, remote-login,
and file-transfer.
	- mandate key burn-the-bridge steps.  Things like forcing all of us to
jump into the deep end on 1/1/1983 when only TCP would be usable on the
ARPANET.  So we had to make it work.
	- force the technology out of the computer research world into other
scientific arenas.  Things like NSFNet.
	- force the technology out of the research lab educational arena and
into real-world operational use.  Things like making TCP mandatory for
procurement of DoD systems.

- an environment in which people who saw a need could take it on and
"just do it", letting the ecosystem later decide whether or not it would
endure.  Rough consensus, running code led to Internet Darwinism, not a
committee vote.

- people who seized various needs and just did it without much debate or
discussion.  Dave Mills, for example, focused in on Time, and he and his
crew created NNTP, which is why your computer on The Internet today
knows what time it is.

- people who took on some less glamorous, but crucial, roles.  Jon
Postel is a good example of this, working in a calm but forceful way to
keep some discipline in the rowdy crowd.   He organized "TCP Bakeoff"
events to make sure we were all on the same page.  He made sure
important things got written down with permanence, even if he had to do
it himself - perhaps the First Internet Historian.  His iron hand as
Numbers Czar was something no one else particularly wanted to do.  I
recall several conversations with Jon (mostly by email of course) to get
a new Number assigned, when he would patiently explain why it was a bad
idea and that there was a way to do what I wanted without using up
Number Space.  The First Internet Bureaucrat, but with a penchant to
find a solution.

- by virtue of free and working code, and the core documentation which
Jon, Jake, and others excelled in making available, universities and
colleges across the reach of the Internet created a pipeline of students
who continuously emerged into the workforce with a timely and practical
knowledge and experience in The Internet Way.  They rarely had any
similar experience in any other networking system.   I recall managers
lamenting that they were having trouble hiring people because their
company wasn't "on the net".

All of that and more is the ecosystem.

This is not an exhaustive list, and I mentioned as examples just a few
of the people I worked with during that era.   There were many more.
But I hope it conveys the idea of what I mean by "ecosystem".

I recall clearly when I first realized that the Internet ecosystem had
won.  In the early 90s I was "Internet Architect" at Oracle, and was
asked to lead a discussion about the Internet with a group of about 20
key customers.

The group was a collection of executive-level managers - CTOs, CIOs,
etc., from a broad range of industry and government - Banks,
Manufacturers, etc.  We went around the room asking what networking
technology they were using at the time, and got the expected range of
answers.  There were IBM shops, DEC shops, etc., but no "TCP shops".
However, they all did have TCP in-house somewhere in a testbed environment.

Going around the room again, they explained their future plans - their
"roadmap" for their technology.  Every person said the same thing -
"We're going to TCP as fast as we can."  The reasons?  "It works."  "Our
new hires know how to use it."  "We can't wait anymore."

Of course, we subsequently helped them do exactly that.  IMHO, it was
the TCP-based ecosystem that made it all happen.  Not a particular
protocol, or interface, or other technical detail.

The battles in the networking industry may have been between protocols
and architectures.   But all the end users really cared about was that
it - the Internet Ecosystem - worked.


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