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

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Implications, the First International Conference on Computer

Communication, October 24-26, 1972, Washington, D.C.
Special thanks to Yngvar Lundh, Paal Spilling, Gisle Hannemyr, Peter Kirstein, Les Earnest, Louis Pouzin, Dag Belsnes, Andrew Hinchley, Robert Kahn, Dave Mills, Vint Cerf, Horst Claussen, and Hans Vorst for providing background

or documents about this important period of Internet history. Ole Jacobsen,

Patrice Flichy and Klaus Fuchs-Kittowski also provided helpful material or suggestions on people to contact, as did several people on mailing lists. Please know the help is appreciated. And thanks to Jay Hauben and in memoriam to Michael Hauben for the work done that has set a foundation for the understanding of Internet history. Also I want to thank Dr. Samuel Moyn for his encouragement, helpful comments and discussion toward the research for this paper.

An issue of the Computer Communications Review (vol 20, no 5, Oct

1990) provides a set of ARPANET maps documenting different phases in the

development of the ARPANET. The maps are also helpful in providing a

chronology of the transition from the ARPANET to the Internet.
Following are some of the relevant dates:
Jun. '75 - Satellite circuits now cross oceans to Hawaii and the UK.

First TCP implementations tested in this configuration by Stanford,

Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), and University College London (UCL).
April '79 - Multiple satellite links to UK and Norway. According to

Kirstein, one UK-US link made via the commercial British Post Office

International Packet Switched Service(IPSS) using IP/X.25, the other

using the SATNET. Some UK traffic starts using the IPSS route.

Mar '82 - Norway leaves the ARPANET and become an Internet connection

via TCP/IP over SATNET.

Nov '82 - UCL leaves the ARPANET and becomes an Internet connection.
Cerf writes that in 1979 satellite systems were extended to include

the ground stations in Italy and Germany. (Cerf, "How the Internet Came

to Be") Horst Claussen confirms this:
Describing the participation of Germany in SATNET, Claussen writes:
"Having no access to some of the documents I saved back in Salzburg:

the first access to the Arpanet was established in the 1977-1978 timeframe

when I was involved in the DARPA HOL program which later on led to the

programming language Ada. We connected through a Public Data Network to the

VAN gateway at BBN and were "on the net". Later on the idea came up to

cooperate with the German Space Research Center (then DFVLR - now called

DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen who was involved in satellite communications

and had a cooperation with Comsat Labs. Comsat Labs also was involved in

the SATNET and this way we got back to DARPA - Bob Kahn was very

supportive and so was Vint Cerf. Then I joined DFVLR in 1981 and we

found support in the German Ministry of Defense and we also could get

funding for a PSP (I recall that the thing cost us $275K - and that at a

time when the exchange rate for the German Mark fell through the bottom!)

The most difficult thing was to get the support of the German PTT - Research

Center people who "owned" and operated the old Symphonie Station at

Raisting; Symphonie was an early satellite project funded by the EEC which

had been terminated and there was this beautiful antenna and ground station

building sitting empty at Raisting. Mostly through the unofficial support by

the local engineers we were able to set up the PSP and the gateway at

Raisting and connect to the research center at Oberpfaffenhofen which is

some 20 miles away. Don't ask me how much we had to pay for the 9.6kbit/sec

leased line from Oberpfaffenhofen to Raisting - horribly expensive.

When it comes to the exact dates I will have to dig up some of my old files

but officially it must have been at least 1982, maybe even 1983 until we

got the official permission, however, we did operate the SATNET station

almost a year under a ‘temporary testing agreement’.

In May 1985 we ran a combined Packet Radio - SATNET demonstration for the

German Armed Forces and for the US Army at Heidelberg simultaneously and

this was quite successful. SATNET was in operation after I left DFVLR for

another year or two and used mainly for measurements and tests besides being

used for Internet protocol development. (I forgot to mention that we did

implement IP, TCP, UDP etc. in Modula-2 for our own VAX system and that this

implementation was later ported to the Siemens computers used by FGAN

(another government lab working for MOD) for the Packet Radio - SATNET

demonstrations.” (Horst Claussen, Email, April 17, 2003)
Hans Dodel offers a similar account:
"The German participation in SATNET began in the seventies, when the German military became interested enough to ask their ‘Consultant Agency’ IABG to watch what was going on there. Within IABG it was Dr. Horst Claussen who would come to the SATNET meetings then, which I joined in 1979 or 1980.
Horst and I both joined the German Air and Space Administration

DFVLR and spent many years there, working on SATNET and

establishing the first Gateway to SATNET in continental Europe.

(I think the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment in Malvern,

UK, beat us by a few months.)” (Hans Dodel, Email, April 17, 2003)

These accounts help to document that there were both ARPANET and Internet connections between UCL, Norway, Germany and the US.(36) The Packet Satellite Program (PSP) provides a means of understanding the transition from the ARPANET to the Internet with the development of TCP/IP. First the ARPANET was used to

develop TCP/IP. Then SATNET was created as a packet satellite network, and the research on TCP/IP was transitioned from the ARPANET to SATNET providing communication between diverse networks via TCP/IP. Hence this was an important step to creating the Internet. A series of Packet Satellite Program Working Papers (PSPWP) were issued to document "Ideas, specific investigations, and results and software and hardware specifications." (Spilling, Lundh, and Aagesen) Like the Packet Switching Protocol group that Lundh describes, the Packet Satellite Program (PSP) held regularly scheduled meetings, rotating through the institutions where the researchers worked. This was to encourage

the exchange of ideas and the coordination of their activities. Norwegian researchers explain the nature of the program. They write (Spilling, Lundh, and Aagesen):

"In mid 1975 the Packet Satellite Program (PSP) was initiated

by DARPA, with the purpose to develop a satellite-based, packet-

switching communication network, to demonstrate its capabilities,

and to investigate its performance factors."

The program involved the collaboration of a number of research groups in the US and Europe. In the appendix to the Report they list the groups.
SATNET was used as an experimental testbed for their research. To begin

with, SATNET was an integral part of the ARPANET, but as the research evolved,

SATNET became a free standing separate network. The devices connecting

SATNET with the ARPANET were called Gateways.

Describing the importance of gateways and Kahn's foresight regarding

the development of the Internet, Kirstein writes (Kirstein, Email, July 3,

"Bob Kahn's real contribution here was to recognize in 1974

the conceptual need of these gateways and to design them

at a level which would endure."
Kirstein also describes other important innovations that were crucial at

the time, but didn't endure. Yet these innovations played an important

role in helping the Internet survive a number of obstacles it faced.

Kirstein writes, (Ibid):

"One of the really important developments of the mid '70s

was the ability to create relays and gateways between

networks to allow different technologies to be interconnected --

without a complete capitulation by each group to adopt the

US and Internet Suite. Some like DECNET and BITNET capitulated

in the late '80s; others like the British networks, stayed different

until the early '90s. However, it was because they were

interconnected, and IP was then demonstrated to be better that it

really won the war....My own approach was pragmatic; it worked

well at the level, and for the purpose, that I intended; however,

it could not be extended to meet the needs of the future generation.

To example of the importance of the connection capability,

I was ordered by 1977 (by people in our research council) to stop

work on IP networks, because they were contrary to the British

activities. It was only because of support from other bodies in

the UK and US, and because I could continue to work with the IP

networks connected to the favoured British flavours, that the

large-scale experimental services could continue over the next

10-12 years.”
Elaborating on how ARPANET and SATNET were different entities,

Spilling writes:

"ARPANET and SATNET operated in parallel for a long period.

UCL in London and NDRE at Kjeller had both access to

ARPANET via a TIP at UCL and a TIP at Kjeller....There

was a leased line from London to Kjeller and a fully or

partly defence-related line from Kjeller to Wiesbaden

in Germany and then over satellite to the ARPANET in the US

This was the situation as far as I can remember until say mid

1982. The SATNET experiment ran from 1976 till 1979. Then it

turned 'operational.' That meant, no real experiments.

Further it meant that European sites, mainly NDRE and UCL

could start interconnecting their local networks to SATNET

via Gateways at Kjeller and UCL, and communicate with US hosts

through a Gateway in the US This replaced gradually the

services provided by the TIPs or via the TIPs. This was then to

be known as the INTERNET, with capital letters, and as such was

a fact at the end of 1979.

Spilling notes that:
"ARPANET links from the US over satellite to Kjeller and a

narrow-bank link further on to UCL, were not efficient and required

special treatment by BBN. It was therefore a push to move away

from ARPANET and over on SATNET. NDRE had its first INTERNET

host up 1981/82, making use of Dave Mills' 'fuzzball' software."
But Spilling does not have a direct reference to when the ARPANET

link to Kjeller/London was decommissioned. Kahn confirms these accounts.

He writes (Kahn, Email, Sept. 5, 2002):
"(I)n the 1970s, I initiated a broadcast packet satellite (SATNET)

experiment on INTELSAT IV with the first participants being the US

and UK. The third participant (of what eventually were five

participants) was Norway. We were already conducting internet

experiments over SATNET in the late 1970s using TCP/IP.
In the early 1980s, we decided to rely solely on SATNET for

connectivity with Europe and thus the two 9.6 kbps lines, which were

running in parallel with the SATNET connections, were decommissioned."
As Kirstein and Kahn emphasize, there were five nations who were

participants in the SATNET experiment. He writes that SATNET included

not only the US, Norway and Great Britain, but eventually also sites

at DFVLR in Oberpfaffinghofen, Germany (near Munich), and CNUCE in

Pisa, attached to the Fucino earth station in Italy. (Kirstein, Email,

July 3, 2002)

Providing a general chronology of the development of the

3 different packet networks that TCP/IP interconnected to become

the Internet, Spilling writes, "DARPA...had three different networking

technologies under development in the '70s, namely:

o The ARPANET; 1969 ->
o The Packet Radio Network (PRNET); 1973 ->
o A packet satellite network, called SATNET; 1976-1979
"This implies," Spilling writes, "that the need for a protocol

that would connect these diverse networks was recognized early

on and that resulted in the paper by Cerf and Kahn, "A Protocol

for Packet Network Intercommunication."

Explaining the difficulty of involving different countries in

the research process, Spilling writes:

"The start of the development and experimentation with SATNET

was considerably delayed. The idea was to use one 64 kb/s

channel in the so called 'Multi-destination half duplex'

mode, with ground stations in Norway, England, Germany, Italy

and the USA. The endpoints of this channel were terminated

in equipment owned by different organizations. This was unheard

of in the Intelsat/Comsat organisations, and they had no policy

for handling this case -- no regulations and no tariff ratings.

If I remember correctly, Bob Kahn spent a long time hammering on

the satellite organizations -- more than a year -- to have them

accept this new mode of operation."
Spilling explains the result of the creation of SATNET was the

creation of the INTERNET. He writes:

"When SATNET development was ending in 1979 and the TCP/IP protocols

were matured sufficiently, SATNET was used as a means to interconnect

local area networks in Norway, England, Germany, and Italy with

ARPANET, which interconnected many LANs scattered all over the US

continent. This constellation formed the INTERNET with capital letters,

interconnecting defence institutions and research institutions with

military contracts, hence forming a very closed community. As you

have mentioned, you needed permission from DARPA in order to connect

with this community.
According to Kahn, by the 1980s there was a connection between

these different country networks using a gateway to SATNET and then

a gateway to connect to the ARPANET, "This was not a link over ARPANET,"

he emphasizes(Kahn, Email, Sept 11, 2002), "It was a connection

using SATNET, which was a broadcast satellite system.... This is

if you like an ETHERNET IN THE SKY with drops in Norway (actually routed

via Sweden) and then the UK and later Germany and Italy. (Graphic IV)

Kahn explains that NDRE and UCL had been experimenting with TCP/IP before

the cutover to TCP/IP took place on the ARPANET in January 1983. Therefore

until January 1983, NDRE and UCL had two paths they would use. They could

still use NCP over the ARPANET links until they were dismantled...and in

parallel TCP/IP could be used over SATNET. Once the ARPANET links were

dismantled, they had only the SATNET remaining." (See also From the ARPANET to the Internet: A Study of the ARPANET TCP/IP Digest.)

When the ARPANET nodes serving the UK and Norway were decommissioned,

researchers in these countries had to use TCP/IP over SATNET.

Responding to a question as to whether the 1983 cutover to TCP/IP

on the ARPANET created a new form of connection on the ARPANET,

Kahn replies, "No. It was not a new form of connection so much as it was

using a different protocol over the ARPANET (i.e. TCP/IP vs NCP) and thus,

in effect, everyone on the ARPANET was now Internet enabled since they

could talk with anyone else with TCP/IP on the Internet."
Graphic I – Diagram of NPL, CYCLADES and ARPANET as prototype for Internet
Graphic II – Diagram of UCL, NORSAR and ARPANET links from Kirstein’s 1975 paper
Graphic III – Diagram of plan for 1981 IIASA computer networking linking research centers in Eastern and Western Europe and U.S.
Graphic IV – SATNET as an Ethernet in the Sky

Graphic V – 1977 Internet Experiment
Ronda Hauben © 2004
Last updated: May 1, 2004

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

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