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Letters to the Editor
Vint Cerf writes in response to Looking After #numbertwo by Dan Stevens.
First, Mr. Stevens does a very good job of getting his facts straight about the origins of the Internet, with a couple of minor exceptions. Not to nitpick, but it turns out that Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first browser while he was inventing the World Wide Web at CERN. Mosaic was the second browser and was a product of a collaboration between Marc Andreesen and Eric Bina at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. They eventually refined their work and helped to found Netscape Communications.
Second, the initial effort to build J.C.R. Licklider’s network was called the ARPANET. My good friend, Steve Crocker led the Network Working Group that designed and implemented the host-to-host and application layer protocols and also invented the RFC idea (in April 1969).
The ARPANET was made up of devices called “Interface Message Processors” or “IMPs”. These were packet switches used to test a radial alternative to circuit switching (as in the telephone network). These devices were built by a company called Bolt Beranek and Newman with funding from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The first node of the ARPANET was installed at UCLA in September 1969.
The success of the ARPANET led Bob Kahn, who was a key architect of the ARPANET’s IMP, to think about “open networking” and the idea of interconnecting arbitrary numbers of distinct packet networks, some using dedicated telephone circuits, some using mobile land radio and others using satellites, which led directly to the design of the Internet in 1973. Bob and I worked on the problem during 1973, publishing a paper on the design of the Internet in May 1974 in the IEEE Transactions on Communications.
The Internet, on top of which the World Wide Web runs today, derives from that work and its evolution from 1973 to 1983, when the system was made operations (January 1, 1983).
I think Mr. Stevens hits a core point in observing that what we see on the Internet is a reflection of mankind in all our glory and squalor. Some people think all we have to do is fix the mirror (e.g. censorship, etc.) but the truth is that you have to deal with what is reflected in that mirror.
Vint Cerf, Google
List of Contributors
Patrick Alexander captained El Salvador on their 2010 tour of Belize. He is currently teaching in London. @i_padawan
Jon Day teaches English at King's College London, and writes for the London Review of Books, n+1, the Telegraph, the Financial Times and others. @Jonhinius
Philippa Geering is a radio producer and researcher. She has produced documentaries and features for BBC Radio 2, 3, 4, 4 Extra and the BBC World Service. She lives in London. @geerip
Dan Stevens is an actor and writer living in New York. He was one of the judges of the Man Booker prize 2012. @thatdanstevens