[ih] Historical Tracing from Concept to Reality over 5 decades?
vint at google.com
Thu Jul 9 13:42:54 PDT 2020
PARC guys came to my networking seminars and left hits about their
protocols that started with PUP and ended with XNS.
On Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 4:40 PM Jack Haverty via Internet-history <
internet-history at elists.isoc.org> wrote:
> Hi Steve et al,
> Yes, I agree that there are "traceable tracks" over the last 50+ years
> from concept to what we have today, for a lot of different concepts.
> What I was searching for was a pointer to some book(s) or author(s) that
> have actually done the tracing, including multiple traces that
> influenced each other, and shown how the world got from point A to point B.
> I've only read a few "internet history" expositions, but all that I've
> seen have seemed to me to be quite parochial, tracing either the history
> of a person or maybe a group, or the history of a technology such as
> TCP/IP (or ARPANET). So, for example, they don't explore any
> influences that might have occurred from other parallel efforts.
> One example is the development of the Internet in the early 80s, and
> cross-coupling that might have occurred between the ARPA "Internet
> Project" and the Xerox PARC creation of XNS technology. I do have one
> tiny piece of evidence that such interactions occurred -- one of the XNS
> specifications references an RFC I wrote at MIT while in Lick's world;
> somebody at Xerox read it, although I suspect much more such
> "cross-coupling" occurred when Bob Metcalfe left Lick's group and joined
> PARC. Also I recall John Schoch participating (and even hosting at
> PARC) one of the quarterly Internet meetings, and lively discussions of
> naming vs. addressing vs. routing.
> There were similarly many other concomitant "internet projects" in the
> 80s -- IBM/SNA, Novell, Banyan, OSI, DECNET, et al, which may, or may
> not, have interacted with "The Internet", if only by the effect of
> people moving around during their career. But the "internet history"
> discussions I've seen generally don't even mention such work.
> So I was hoping that someone would point me to some historian's work
> which has traced something (e.g., Lick's notion of programming) through
> whatever paths it took through whatever companies and institutions over
> time, showing how it evolved from concept to reality. I guess there
> isn't any but maybe some historian lurking here will take up the task.
> Meanwhile, I'm collecting thoughts to write down what I personally
> experienced, which will necessarily be parochial since I can't remember
> what I never encountered. But I had a different path than others, so
> maybe it will provide another piece of the puzzle for someone to put
> together later. As you said, there's plenty of room for multiple
> On 7/6/20 12:25 PM, Steve Crocker wrote:
> > Jack,
> > The original visions fo Lick, the AI senior people -- Simon, Newell,
> > McCarthy, Minsky, Engelbart and others repeatedly animated ARPA
> > sponsored computer science research over many years. Some ideas
> > attempted and reattempted. Hardware was often (always?) a gating
> > factor, but, of course, there was also a learning curve. From mid
> > 1971 to mid 194 I oversaw the first few years of the Speech
> > Understanding Program. The goal was understanding connected speech
> > input in a constrained task environment. 1,000 word vocabulary,
> > standard American male broadcast speech in a clean environment. No
> > requirement to operate in real time. There are traceable tracks from
> > that work to today's Alexa, Siri, et al. Lick had a vision of a
> > unified library. I'm not sure today's Google is quite what he had in
> > mind, but it's quite astonishing nonetheless.
> > David Alan Grier and I are working on a history of the Arpanet. We've
> > been trying to describe the context, i.e. the state of the art and the
> > motivation, and that's led us inevitably into the broader context of
> > the goals for man machine interaction during that period. We
> > certainly won't be able to include all the threads from that period,
> > so there is room for multiple histories to be written.
> > Steve
> > On Mon, Jul 6, 2020 at 2:51 PM Jack Haverty via Internet-history
> > <internet-history at elists.isoc.org
> > <mailto:internet-history at elists.isoc.org>> wrote:
> > For a while now, I've been curious about how ideas progress from
> > brainstorm to
> > reality, and the recent mention of Licklider's vision reminded
> > me. So a
> > question for the historians out there -- has anyone traced an
> > Internet-related
> > idea from concept decades ago to reality today?
> > There's a specific idea that I have in mind. Back in the early 70s,
> > Licklider
> > ("Lick") was my thesis advisor and later boss of the group where I
> > worked at
> > MIT. Lick had a vision of "verbs" and "nouns", roughly meaning
> > subroutines and
> > data structures, that could be used to put together "sentences,
> > paragraphs, and
> > documents", meaning computer subroutine libraries and programs.
> > "documents" would interact with each other across the "intergalactic
> > computer
> > network".
> > Having been brainwashed by Lick, I'm admittedly biased, but that
> > sure sounds
> > pretty close to what we have today, 50 years later.
> > Back in the 70s, part of Lick's vision was also that you could write
> > libraries
> > of subroutines to create a dictionary of "verbs" and standardized
> > structures , or "nouns", and through some magic (APIs) plug them
> > together into
> > sentences, aka programs, to do useful work.
> > Our group spent a lot of time, as part of an ARPA effort called
> > "Automatic
> > Programming", to build such a system, called "CALICO" (which stood
> > something
> > but I can't remember what). The "dictionary" of pieces was
> > well-documented
> > (eeerr, uuhm, sorta kinda - we weren't big on documentation) and in a
> > searchable
> > database for use by subsequent programmers.
> > But the technology of the era dictated using PDP-10 assembly
> > text-only
> > terminals, and the now appallingly slow ARPANET. None of this was
> > especially
> > portable and has long since disappeared.
> > Fast forward to 2020. I recently stumbled across a technology called
> > NodeRed,
> > somehow associated with IBM, which provides a "palette" of components
> > which do
> > interesting things -- i.e., the "verbs" and "nouns" in Lick's
> > terminology. The
> > programming environment is a blank screen, onto which you drag the
> > pieces you
> > need, and then "wire" them together to create functional
> > programming. You
> > create your program by literally drawing a picture. The Internet
> > provides the
> > necessary communications substrate on which all these actors
> > perform.
> > People
> > can readily create new "verbs" and submit them to the library.
> > IMHO, Lick would have loved this.
> > I've been using NodeRed to create some simple home automation
> > programs,
> > e.g.,
> > stuff like turning on lights when motion sensors trigger. Or
> > send me email
> > when something unusual is detected. Or almost anything else you can
> > think of.
> > It really is very simple to use. I can see the parallels between
> > Lick's 70s
> > vision and today's actual implementations. Instead of a PDP-10 and
> > ARPANET,
> > today I just use a Raspberry Pi and Wifi.
> > So, my curiosity is how the world got from point A to point B. There
> > were lots
> > of people who encountered Lick over the years, e.g., at MIT, ARPA,
> > etc. There
> > were lots of students who passed through Lick's group on their way to
> > careers.
> > Did Lick's vision travel with some of them and influence the
> > appearance of
> > NodeRed 50 years later? Or was it some totally different
> > evolution from
> > someone's else's similar vision?
> > Do Internet Historians perform these kinds of "genealogy" traces
> > of the
> > evolution of technical ideas from concept to widespread use? How
> > something
> > like NodeRed come from vision to reality?
> > /Jack Haverty (MIT LCS 1969-1977)
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