History of the Internet Part 6
By Vinton Cerf, as told to Bernard Aboba
Courtesy of: WebmasterCourse.Com
The Internet Takes Off Continued…
.. software. Len Bozack was the Stanford student who started Cicso Systems. His first client: Hewlett-Packard. Meanwhile Proteon had gotten started, and a number of other routing vendors had emerged. Despite having built the first gateways (now called routers), BBN didn’t believe there was a market for routers, so they didn’t go into competition with Wellfleet, ACC, Bridge, 3COM, Cisco, and others.
The exponential growth of the Internet began in 1986 with the NSFNet. When the NCP to TCP transition occurred in 1983 there were only a couple of hundred computers on the network. As of January 1993 there are over 1.3 million computers in the system. There were only a handful of networks back in 1983; now there are over 10,000.
In 1988 I made a conscious decision to pursue connection of the Internet to commercial electronic mail carriers. It wasn’t clear that this would be acceptable from the stand-point of federal policy, but I thought that it was important to begin exploring the question.
By 1990, an experimental mail relay was running at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) linking to MCI Mail with the Internet. In the interviewing two years, most commercial email carriers in the U.S. are linked to Internet and many others around the world are following suit.
In this same time period, commercial Internet service providers emerged from the collection of intermediate-level networks inspired and sponsored by the National Science Foundation as part of its NSFNet initiatives. Performance Systems International (PSI) was one of the first, spinning off from NYSERNet. UUNET Technologies formed Alternet;
Advanced Network and Systems (ANS) was formed by IBM, MERIT, and MCI (with its ANS CO+RE commercial subsidiary); CERFNet was initiated by General Atomics which also runs the San Diego Supercomputer Center; JVNCNet became GES, Inc., offering commercial services; Sprint formed Sprintlink; Infonet offered Infolan service; the Swedish PTT offered SWIPNET, and comparable services were offered in the UK and Finland.
The Commercial Internet eXchange was organized by commercial Internet service providers as a traffic transfer point for unrestricted service.
In 1990 a conscious effort was made to link in commercial and nonprofit information service providers, and this has also turned out to be useful. Among others, Dow Jones, Telebase, Dialog, CARL, the National Library of Medicine, and RLIN are now online.
The last few years have seen internationalization of the system and commercialization, new constituencies well outside of computer science and electrical engineering, regulatory concerns, and security concerns from business and out of a concern for our dependence on this as infrastructure.
There are questions of pricing and privacy; all of these things are having a significant impact on the technology evolution plan, and with many different stakeholders there are many divergent views of the right way to deal with various problems. These views have to be heard and compromises worked out.
The recent rash of books about the Internet is indicative of the emerging recognition of this system as a very critical international infrastructure, and not just for the research and education community.
I was astonished to see the CCITT bring up an Internet node; the U.N. has just brought up a node, un.org; IEEE and ACM are bringing their systems up. We are well beyond critical mass now.
The 1990s will continue this exponential growth phase. The other scary thing is that we are beginning to see experimentation with packet voice and packet video. I fully anticipate that an Internet TV guide will show up in the next couple of years.
I think this kind of phenomenon is going to exacerbate the need for understanding the economics of these systems and how to deal with charging for use of resources. I hesitate to speculate; currently .
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