The Internet: On its International Origins and Collaborative Vision a work In-Progress

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The Internet: On its International Origins and Collaborative Vision

A Work In-Progress
By Ronda Hauben

“[T]he effort at developing the Internet Protocols was international

from the beginning.”

Vinton Cerf, "How the Internet Came to Be"


The process of the Internet's development offers an important

prototype to understand the creation of a multinational

collaborative research project which depends on and fosters

communication across the boundaries of diverse administrative

structures, political entities, and technical designs.

The mythology surrounding the origins of the Internet is that it

began in 1969 in the US That is the date marking the origins

of the ARPANET (a US packet switching network), but not the

birth of the Internet. The origins of the Internet date from 1973.

The goal of the researchers creating the Internet was to create a

network of networks, a means for networks from diverse countries

to intercommunicate. Originally the design was to link up several

national but diverse packet switching networks including the ARPANET

US),Cyclades (France),and NPL (Great Britain). When that was not

politically feasible, the research project involved Norwegian,

British and American research groups, and researchers from other

countries, especially France, at various junctures. These research

groups did the early development work. The Internet was

international from its very beginnings.


The following work in progress begins the investigation of the collaboration between researchers from the US and several European countries in the early development of the Internet. Both Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf, Internet researchers who are credited with the invention of the TCP/IP protocol, have noted that the Internet was international from its very origins. Yet the common understanding of the development of the TCP/IP protocol, the protocol that made it possible to build the Internet, has been that it was an American development. This misconception prevents the development of an accurate public understanding of the origins of the Internet, and of the lessons that this early history can provide for the future. It is impossible to have achieved the development of an international network of networks, of the Internet, without the international participation and collaboration to build the prototype and the functioning implementations of the needed technology.
This hidden history involved researchers from Great Britain, France, Norway, Germany and Italy, and the US. Recently I have also learned of the knowledge and interest in computer networking of researchers in Eastern European countries including Hungary, Russia and East Germany. How the actual historical development unfolded cannot be known unless there is serious attention to this research while pioneers of these achievements are alive and can be interviewed and encouraged to provide the help they can give. In the following working draft I begin to document some of the links and events that have come to the fore. I hope this working draft will begin the discussion needed to raise some of the research questions involving the Internet’s origins that need scholarly collaborative attention especially while the Internet pioneers are still alive.

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The Internet: On its International Origins and Collaborative Vision a work In-Progress

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