Documentary footage dispels myths about ARPAnet
Documentary footage dispels myths about ARPAnet
Monday, 02 May 2011

A 15-minute clip of a 1997 BBC documentary recently posted to YouTube reveals intriguing details about the history of the Internet.

According to Christopher Mims who alerted us to this newly unearthed footage in a Mims's Bits blog post on Technology review, the clip demolishes the myth that ARPAnet was inspired by nuclear war.


Instead, as  Leonard Kleinrock, the computer scientist who helped set up the original Internet hardware, explains in the film it was simply a means for engineers to access to the capabilities of remote computers that their systems might not possess and took advantage of the fact that powerful computer system spent a lot of time idle.




The film reveals how Usenet, which was not part of the officially sanctioned ARPAnet and used a combination of old-style modems operating through telephone lines and the Unix program UUCP to forward message from one machine to the next and helped to create a system in which there was no central node.

You could say that it wasn't Al Gore who invented the Internet but a bunch of programmers eager to get their hands on yet more hardware!




Mims comments:

This made the network immune to censorship, whether intentional or accidental. This, in turn, helped feed the rumor that the network had originally been conceived as one that would be invulnerable to the loss of any central communication hubs(s).

And so the myth that ARPAnet had been designed to withstand nuclear attack was born and perpetuated.

Original article:

Unearthed: A Documentary Treasure on the History of the Internet

Related Reading

The Internet - an informal history, including of Leonard Kleinrock's idea of packet switching

Last Updated ( Monday, 02 May 2011 )

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