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Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet [Paperback]

Katie Hafner
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 21 1998
Twenty five years ago, it didn't exist. Today, twenty million people worldwide are surfing the Net. Where Wizards Stay Up Late is the exciting story of the pioneers responsible for creating the most talked about, most influential, and most far-reaching communications breakthrough since the invention of the telephone.
In the 1960's, when computers where regarded as mere giant calculators, J.C.R. Licklider at MIT saw them as the ultimate communications devices. With Defense Department funds, he and a band of visionary computer whizzes began work on a nationwide, interlocking network of computers. Taking readers behind the scenes, Where Wizards Stay Up Late captures the hard work, genius, and happy accidents of their daring, stunningly successful venture.

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Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet + Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution - 25th Anniversary Edition + The Soul of A New Machine
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From Amazon

Considering that the history of the Internet is perhaps better documented internally than any other technological construct, it is remarkable how shadowy its origins have been to most people, including die-hard Net-denizens!

At last, Hafner and Lyon have written a well-researched story of the origins of the Internet substantiated by extensive interviews with its creators who delve into many interesting details such as the controversy surrounding the adoption of our now beloved "@" sign as the separator of usernames and machine addresses. Essential reading for anyone interested in the past -- and the future -- of the Net specifically, and telecommunications generally. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Hafner, coauthor of Cyberpunk, and Lyon, assistant to the president of the University of Texas, here unveil the Sputnik-era beginnings of the Internet, the groundbreaking scientific work that created it and the often eccentric, brilliant scientists and engineers responsible. Originally funded during the Eisenhower administration by IPTO (Information Processing Techniques Office) within the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), ARPANET, the Internet's predecessor, was devised as a way to share far-flung U.S. computer resources at a time when computers were wildly expensive, room-sized bohemoths unable to communicate with any other. The husband-and-wife writing team profile the computer engineering firm of Bolt Baranek and Newman, which produced the original prototypes for ARPANET, and they profile the men (there were virtually no women) and an alphabet soup of agencies, universities and software that made the Internet possible. And while the book attempts to debunk the conventional notion that ARPANET was devised primarily as a communications link that could survive nuclear war (essentially it was not), pioneer developers like Paul Baran (who, along, with British Scientist Donald Davies devised the Internet's innovative packet-switching message technology) recognized the importance of an indestructible message medium in an age edgy over the prospects of global nuclear destruction. The book is excellent at enshrining little known but crucial scientist/administrators like Bob Taylor, Larry Roberts and Joseph Licklider, many of whom laid the groundwork for the computer science industry.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
Bob Taylor usually drove to work, thirty minutes through the rolling countryside northeast of Washington, over the Potomac River to the Pentagon. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great intro. to the Internet, Aug. 4 2003
I'm reading a series of technology-history books at the moment, this one, 'The Triumph of Ethernet' and 'how the Web was born'. This is definitely the place to start - a clear, fast paced tale of the various characters behind networked computers in late 1960's and 70's. Essentially this book describes the origin of human computer interfacing which became networking theory in the North East United States in the late 1950's and '60s.
The first computer network was called ARPANET, an outcome of inspired technology-development policy from ARPA -the Advanced Research Projects Agency, a part of the Defense Dept. The story is laid out chronologically without too much techspeak, and brings up a number of questions.
One question that seemed clearer to me at the end of the book was that ARPANET was the first mover towards internetworked computers, but from the story it is clear that it was a series of hardware computers which acted as 'routers' of information and that the heartbeat of the internet, as we have come to know it, is the communications protocol [called TCP/IP, specified by Vint Cerf, among others] which allowed the various messages to be interpreted by the different computers. TCP/IP and Cerf are almost incidental to this book, which is a pity.
Other topics covered are the initiation and development of E-mail and how the non-hierarchical, informal communications process among academics came to be the spirit of communications in the internet as a whole - something which is not altogether obvious from its origins in the Defense Dept. For me, the other big revelation was the speed of the adoption of the internet (even in days before the World Wide Web) and how the originators of the ARPANET were happy to allow it to be made obsolete by technological development.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great story Sept. 21 2002
This book provides excellent documentation about the origins of the Internet. The authors conducted hundreds of interviews, which they combined with facts gleamed from thousands of pages of archived materials dating back to the very beginnings of the Net. I've been teaching courses about the Internet for several years, and so I was already familiar with the general timeline of who did what and when. What was fascinating to me about this book was that the authors made it possible to get to know the personalities behind the names and faces. They discussed the motivations of these leaders, the challenges they faced, and the tremendous amount of cooperation that they engaged in. The early part of the book was especially engaging, when the authors discuss the early motivations for setting up ARPANET through the construction of the first 2 nodes. As the Net begins to grow, adding more nodes monthly, Hafner and Lyon must cut back on the level of detail they provide about the main players because so much happens so fast. At that point, my eyes glazed over a little, but overall, I found the book incredibly exciting, and a very important contribution to the history of the Net.
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5.0 out of 5 stars �Wizardry� is an apt term Jan. 13 2002
"Wizardry" is an apt term to describe the work of the many who laid the foundation for what we now know as the Internet. Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon weave together the talents, personalities, idiosyncrasies, obstacles, and triumphs into a compelling and -- given the complexity of the Internet's development -- intelligible history. Hafner and Lyon tell of the work of engineers and researchers of Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), a Cambridge-based computer company backed by the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which ultimately connected computers across the country.
Readers of this book are spared excessive technical jargon and are instead are kept amused by the many lighthearted moments in the midst of perfectionism and high pressure to produce. This book gave me the context for understanding the hard work behind and rationale for distributed networks, packet-switching, and TCP/IP. I was intrigued by the "accidental" start of E-mail, which is one networking function I cannot do without. I was also inspired by the teamwork, passion and work ethic displayed by those involved, particularly because their intense focus often flew in the face of many detractors and disinterested parties who failed to appreciate the possibilities and usefulness of a distributed network.
The authors also describe the open culture that resulted from the collaborative work, which we see today. In contrast, the reluctance of BBN to release the source codes of the Interface Message Processors (IMP) was a harbinger of the intellectual property issues that would emerge in decades to follow.
So many players were involved in the creation of the Internet, that I found myself needing to back track to keep each person and his (all were men) contribution straight. Not a problem, though. The information in this book was fascinating. I found myself wanting to take my time to absorb as many of the details as possible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional recording April 19 2001
Format:School & Library Binding
A visual record, and a very similar book, is the documentary: Nerds 2.0.1 by Stephen Segaller who credits Katie's book. Both of these books give an excellent, if a tiny bit incomplete feel for what the ARPAnet was like. Minor typographic errors make me want to rate it 4.5, but I'm not allowed a fraction, and giving Katie the benefit of rounding, and I am a tough editor, she gets 5 stars.
If you do not have a chance to thumb through this book in a store or a library, this book is not a technical book; there are no really technical observations. This book will not tell you how to send email but will tell the story of the @-sign (not easily available on some foreign keyboards). There are no photos or maps (see Segaller's book for those but buy both). The value of Katie's book is the perspective of the computer communications community. I was there as a college freshman, and Katie has really captured much of the sense (as it can be written); specifically the frustration, but also the excitement of the early net. I really think the world needs a working ARPAnet (running NCP, not TCP/IP) to give a feel for what this was all like. The Net changed my perspective on life (I was one of those who pulled all nighters), and this book will give some of the sense of why all those on the early net did those.
The treatment on the Usenet and on the Bitnet are a tiny bit thin. I can think of 1-2 people who really deserved mention in the book [Frank Kuo @SRI and U. of HI being one], these are minor slights which are the limitations of paper. The chronology and the resources are as I remember them from my time during that period (1973-1975) of exposure.
My biases: I know Katie and he ex-, and helped promote by posting to Usenet the announcement for this book and her earlier Cyberpunks book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book on the history of the internet
This was an excellent account of how the internet was created and how both ARPA and distributed networking has shaped what we use now everyday.. Read more
Published on June 7 2004 by Will Rodriguez
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book about the history of the net
This book tells about how the Internet as we know it today has come into existence.
In February 1966 Bob Taylor who was employed by the Advanced Research Project Agency... Read more
Published on Aug. 17 2003 by AngiePoo
Lots of information is conveyed with excellent editing making this book a very fast read. But AT&T's 6-year opposition to distributed processing is as appropriately treated --... Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2003 by G. L. Rowsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Histories and Myths
A superb history of the Internet, dispelling many a myth, such as "The Internet was designed in order to survive nuclear war. Read more
Published on July 3 2003 by Robert Cannon
3.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, but decent
It's an OK book, but the bureaucratic jostling should have been left out and I wish they'd have included more about the early culture of the internet, as Steven Levy did in... Read more
Published on July 16 2002 by Joseph S. Grossberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book.
I'm a software engineer who has recently become interested in the history of computing. I thought this book was well written. Read more
Published on Oct. 23 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars The Non-Tech of Tech
This book is a welcome respite from the technologically-oriented books on technology. The authors do a nice job of telling the story behind what has become the Internet. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2001 by Joshua Jacobs
4.0 out of 5 stars Good history of early days
This book is a good history of the early days of the Internet. I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the history of the net before it really took off. Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2001 by Ronald Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging reading
This book provides an interesting account on the early days of internet. The story will make anyone who is fascinated by the impact of internet today to appreciate the effort of... Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2001 by Abraman
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