[ih] Historical Tracing from Concept to Reality over 5 decades?

Dave Crocker dhc at dcrocker.net
Mon Jul 6 15:55:28 PDT 2020

On 7/6/2020 1:59 PM, Craig Partridge wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 6, 2020 at 2:24 PM Dave Crocker via Internet-history 
> <internet-history at elists.isoc.org 
> <mailto:internet-history at elists.isoc.org>> wrote:
>     On the other hand, Ray's opportunistic cleverness definitely /was/
>     accidental.  Especially as compared against the more elaborate
>     (cumbersome) approach others were considering.  But again, that's a
>     matter of the low-level detail.
> I think this undersells Ray's insight/genius. 

I consider "opportunistic cleverness" to be high praise.

Besides that, my experience growing up in that environment, where pretty 
much everyone would likely be called genius by regular folk, was that no 
one used that word.  I quickly noted that they simply said someone was 

> Sometimes what makes 
> something go from intellectual concept to reality is someone figuring 
> out how to make the something simple.  And Ray found a way to make email 
> simple, and easy to use, and it exploded.  And then it exploded again 
> when Vittal created MSG and "Answer" [modern Reply].


What has been interesting is seeing that some people seem to naturally 
gravitate towards powerful simplicity.

 From later discussions with Ray, it was clear to me that his process, 
back in 1971, of reacting to the surrounding discussions that were 
proposing a rather complicated, cumbersome email system -- including 
printing messages onto paper and delivering them to people's desks -- 
was not an elaborate sequence of thinking through a set of issues, 
formulating careful design considerations, and engineering an integrated 

Rather it was a simple moment of the insight you cite: Just make what 
really was a tiny increment, linking two existing mechanisms of 
messaging and network file copying.

And I don't undersell the importance of that at all.


Dave Crocker
Brandenburg InternetWorking

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