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October 2004 Newsletter


Welcome to the Internet History Newsletter, brought to you by the website. In this edition:

=> FROM OUR MAIL - TCP/IP origins

=> FEATURE ARTICLE When did the Internet begin - more theories and feedback

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This month we have had some urgent requests for help with school homework assignments. Some of the questions posed have included

* where was the first Internet site?
* where was the first world wide web site (was it Mozilla?)
* who used the Internet first - the CIA or universities?

Makes you wonder how we ever did homework in the days before the Internet!

Also some interesting discussions on Archives, and the need to preserve bits of our history which are sitting in individual collections here and there. I may have more to say on that next month, as there is a growing recognition of the need for some more work in this area.


Meanwhile, one of the most interesting bits of feedback came from Internet pioneer Bob Frankston, who wrote about the history of the "end-to-end" concept in Internet architecture.

For the technical enthusiasts, the following link leads you to a fascinating email exchange with Internet pioneers Vint Cerf, Bob Frankston and David Reed, reprinted for Internet History Newsletter subscribers with their permission.

This page discusses the conceptual design of the TCP/IP protocols, and some of the discussions involved. It's a bit hard to follow unless you understand Internet architecture discussions, but for those who do it's a revealing history.


If you like what we are doing, add a link to your site! - the premier site for Internet history resources.



In the September 2004 Newsletter (if you've lost it, you can access a copy from we talked about the different theories of Internet beginnings, and that there is no common agreement on when the Internet began or how to define exactly what it is that can be called the beginnings of the Internet.

As a follow-up to this, Mitra Ardron, one of the co-Founders of early networking group the Association for Progressive Communications ( proposed a different direction altogether.

"I would suggest that defining the history of the internet by the particular protocol that won is only one way to do it. Ask yourself - would it still be the internet if we were using ATM, or X.25 or any of the other competing protocols? Of course it would.

An alternative view of history tracks the history of the Internet as the ubiquitous use of electronic "online" communications. The history belongs at the applications level - with the development of email, with the progression from proprietary databases to Gopher and Wais to the World Wide Web, and from newsgroups and conferencing through mailing lists and blogs.

One very significant trend which tends to get ignored is the various online systems, the early Source, Compuserve, Dialcom, and of course APC networks, Fidonet etc. If anything, the history of the use of the Internet, at least from the point of view of the public, owes more to that stream of development than the more common version.

From that perspective, the switch from X.25 to TCP/IP around say '92 for the transport was just something that was done when cost/benefit of TCP/IP dropped below that of X.25."

Thanks Mitra! That view of history largely accords with what we have done with the Internet Tapes - tracing the various streams which came together to create the phenomena of the Internet.

Sections 7 and 8 of the Audio CD and Ebook (details of the special offer for newsletter subscribers can be obtained from cover the development of APC, Fidonet, and the other early networks. So of course we agree with that direction and the importance of other streams of development which are usually not recorded.

This gets interesting too as we trace the history of the Internet in various countries.

Usually there are parallel streams in a country of social networks, which often began with the Fidonet/APC networks, academic and research networks, and business networks. As in the beginning these were all using different technologies, it's not too surprising that they didn't know of each others existence in a lot of cases.

It's also not too surprising that the academic networks, on the whole, documented their history a lot better. So, for instance, the excellent Thailand history (see International histories page) follows the academic network origins. But we are aware of a parallel development in social networking started by CCAN Thailand at the same time using Fidonet, and early links from UN agencies in Bangkok via Thaipak and X25 networks to APC networks, all in the pre- 1990 period. So in most cases it's going to be very difficult to get more complete histories. We are happy to post multiple stories from various countries if you have information which complements that which we are already providing!

The South African history is interesting, in that it begins with Fidonet connections to academic institutions. This was a pattern we were to see in various countries.

How these separate systems all came together, and what drove them, is a fascinating story. Here we start to learn of the unique roles played by people like Tim Pozar, Scott Weikart and others in providing linking technology to bring together the PC networks and the academic/research networks. It's also where we start to learn about pioneers who took the Internet to various parts of the world. It's a quite fascinating story of how the various network threads came together to create the critical mass for the Internet, and we tell in in the Audio CD and Ebook. So much of this was previously unrecorded!

More national histories wanted! We have them underway for a few countries, but we need more!

Educational authorities wanted! We would like to see the History of the Internet Audio CD and Ebook available for schools, colleges and universities. If you know anyone we should contact about this, email us (


At $18.95 for the Audio CD and the Ebook, including postage and handling to anywhere in the world, we have gone as far as we can to make this comprehensive History of the Internet readily available. Buy now from to access this price.


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