In 1973, Robert Metcalfe was “the networking guy” at Xerox PARC in California, and PARC had a problem.
In Metcalfe’s building there in Palo Alto, scientists were busily carrying out their own individual activities, but they clearly needed to be connected to one another, and to the great research universities. The ARPANET, the predecessor of the Internet, was in its infancy, and the trick was going to be to extend it into the building. (“Also,” he notes, “to enable us all to print on our new 500-dpi, page-per-second laser printer.”)
To 26-year-old Metcalfe, a newly-minted PhD in computer networking, making that connection was the challenge of a lifetime. He relished what he calls his “good fortune to be the first person in the world to be given the problem of connecting a roomful of computers.”
Metcalfe’s wildly successful response to that challenge was nothing less than the co-invention, with colleague David Boggs, of Ethernet – the technology for creating what eventually would come to be called local area networks (LANs) using coaxial cable.
Today, Ethernet connections are so familiar that it seems as if the technology has always been there. Only it hasn’t. PARC scientists could send out electronic packets of information, but they couldn’t get information back...
There has been a lot happening in Internet Hall of Fame-related news recently. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Inaugural Internet Hall of Famers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, in separate interviews with the New York Times on Dec. 30, offer slightly differing views on the hot-button issue of network neutrality and the future of the Internet.
- Internet Hall of Famer Jimmy Wales advises entrepreneurs at the TEDx conference in Tampa, FL to fail faster: “If your project is doomed, shut it down quickly.” The problem, he said, is not failure, but rather letting yourself “tie your ego to any one project.”
- At a conference in London in December, Internet Hall of Famer Richard Stallman called for a “truly anonymous” crypto-currency that will “...
“How We Create the Internet,” by Internet Hall of Fame Advisory Board member Andreu Veà, is a thoroughly engrossing new book about the Internet, its history, and the people who built it. Veà, founder and current president of the Internet Society’s Spanish Chapter, provides readers with hundreds of personal stories, in their own words, from those who have created the Internet.
But don’t take our word for it: Here’s what three Internet Hall of Famers are saying.
Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet: “In this book, Dr. Veà blazes a trail for historians to follow. I am convinced that his contribution will represent a global landmark in the field, occupying the attention of serious scholars for many years.”
Paul Mockapetris, inventor of the Domain Name System: “At last, we can get first-person reports about the creation of the Internet, and analysis of what it means, by an accomplished scholar. The agreements, conflicts and human side are all here.”
And Ray Tomlinson, inventor of email, says the book “brings together the...
In 1994, a modest but determined and brilliant engineer named Madam Qiheng Hu led a delegation to the U.S. for discussions with the National Science Foundation, which led to a consensus on setting up the first direct TCP/IP connection in mainland China. In 1997, she went on to found the China Internet Network Information Center and has chaired its steering committee ever since. This committee manages the operation and development of Internet resources in the world’s most populous nation. In addition, she is president of the Internet Society in China, which she helped found in 2001. For these among other achievements, she was inducted in 2013 into the Internet Hall of Fame. Following are excerpts from an interview with her conducted by Internet Hall of Fame Advisory Board Member Andreu Veà, in conjunction with the new book he has just published, entitled “How We Create the Internet.”
AV: What was your first experience with the Internet or ARPANET?
Some people do what they love; others love what they do. George Sadowsky, a 2013 inductee in the Internet Hall of Fame, has spent 40 years doing both.
The love affair began in 1973 when, as a consultant to the UN, he started working in developing nations. Sadowsky seemed to have a passion for helping such countries, and that passion only grew with his experience. He visited 35 nations and ran projects in 20-30 others before the Internet was established, and he has continued his Internet-related work in multiple developing countries since then.
He served as the network engineer for the very first population census ever done in China, and ensured that the Chinese government used the appropriate software to properly analyze the results of that census. Of the several visits he made to China between 1982 and 1986, he recently said, “The question now was, how do you put that data together to help the government design policies that will really help people? How do you get people to understand what uses can be made of all that information?”
India was another developing country where he helped people use information technology – in this case, to make better decisions about water conservation and usage. But it was the African continent that perhaps held the greatest interest for...