Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet Paperback – Jan 21 1998
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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.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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 morePublished on June 7 2004 by Will Rodriguez
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
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 morePublished on Aug. 1 2003 by G. L. Rowsey
A superb history of the Internet, dispelling many a myth, such as "The Internet was designed in order to survive nuclear war. Read morePublished on July 3 2003 by Robert Cannon
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 morePublished on July 16 2002 by Joseph S. Grossberg
I'm a software engineer who has recently become interested in the history of computing. I thought this book was well written. Read morePublished on Oct. 23 2001
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 morePublished on Oct. 21 2001 by Joshua Jacobs
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