History of the Internet Part 5

By Vinton Cerf, as told to Bernard Aboba

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The Birth of the Internet Continued…

reliable delivery, from IP. So the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) was created as the user-accessible way of using IP. And that’s how the voice protocols work today, via UDP.

Late in 1978 or so, the operational military started to get interested in Internet technology. In 1979 we deployed packet History of the Internetradio systems at Fort Bragg, and they were used in field exercises.

The satellite systems were further extended to include ground stations in Italy and Germany. Internet work continued in building more implementations of TCP/IP for systems that weren’t covered.

While still at DARPA, I formed an Internet Configuration Control Board chaired by David Clark from MIT to assist DARPA in the planning and execution of the evolution of the TCP/IP protocol suite.

This group included many of the leading researchers who contributed to the TCP/IP development and was later transformed by my successor at DARPA, Barry Leiner, into the Internet Activities Board (and is now the Internet Architecture Board of the Internet Society). In 1980, it was decided that TCP/IP would be the preferred military protocols.

In 1982 it was decided that all the systems on the ARPANET would convert over from NCP to TCP/IP. A clever enforcement mechanism was used to encourage this.

We used a Link Level Protocol on the ARPANET; NCP packets used one set of one channel numbers and TCP/IP packets used another set.

So it was possible to have the ARPANET turn off NCP by rejecting packets sent on those specific channel numbers. This was used to convince the people that we were serious in moving from NCP to TCP/IP. In the middle of 1982, we turned off the ability of the network to transmit NCP for one day.

This caused a lot of hubbub unless you happened to be running TCP/IP. It wasn’t completely convincing that we were serious, so toward the middle of fall we turned off NCP for two days; then on January 1, 1983, it was turned off permanently.

The guy who handled a good deal of the logistics for this was Dan Lynch: he was computer center director of USC ISI at the time. He undertook the onerous task of scheduling, planning, and testing to get people up and running on TCP/IP.

As many people know, Lynch went on to found INTEROP, which has become the premier trade show for presenting Internet technology.

In the same period there was also an intense effort to get implementations to work correctly. Jon Postel engaged in a series of Bake Offs, where implementers would shoot kamikaze packets at each other. Recently, FTP Software has reinstituted Bake Offs to ensure interoperability among modern vendor products.

This takes us up to 1983. 1983 to 1985 was a consolidation period. Internet protocols were being more widely implemented. In 1981, 3COM had come out with UNET, which was a UNIX TCP/IP product running on Ethernet.

Internet history timeline part 5The significant growth in Internet products didn’t come until 1985 or so, where we started seeing UNIX and local area networks joining up.

DARPA had invested time and energy to get BBN to build a UNIX implementation of TCP/IP and wanted that ported into the Berkely UNIX release in v4.2. Once that happened, vendors such as Sun started using BSD as the base of commercial products.

The Internet Takes Off

By the mid-1980s there was a significant market for Internet based products. In the 1990s we started to see commercial services showing up, a direct consequence of the NSFNet initiative, which started in 1986 as a 56 Kbps network based on LSI-11s with software developed by David Mills, who was at the University of Deleware. Mills called his NSFNet nodes “Fuzzballs.”

The NSFNet, which was originally designed to hook supercomputers together, was quickly outstripped by demand and was overhauled for T1. IBM, Merit, and MCI did this, with IBM developing the router.

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