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The Internet, like all early software development, was created
in open-source mode, with no patents taken and detailed documentation being
freely shared among participants, which enabled it to progress rapidly through seven
main inventions so far. Only one person in the world has contributed to more
than three of these inventions: I accidentally helped six of them.
messed up in several ways, so more work is needed. I propose developing several
more inventions to make things work better, as discussed further on.
Computer Networking began with two new
kinds of services, that were initiated at MIT in the 1950s as part of the SAGE air defense system funded by the U.S. Air Defense Command.
It had 23 air defense zones spread across North America, including one in
Canada, and ran for 25 years even though it was a fraud from the beginning. Its
two main inventions were:
1. Interactive Computing, which enabled around a hundred users
at each site to promptly see the results of their actions, unlike the then-used
batch processing, and
2. Packetized Data Communications
between computers, enabling prompt exchange of information.
two terms did not come into general use until much later. SAGE used large-scale vacuum-tube computers
that each occupied the area of a football field and used two additional floors
of the same size for power supplies, cooling, and communications equipment,
plus another floor for operators’ display stations.
It was initiated by MIT faculty but turned out to be an
operational fraud, so the MIT administration backed out, turning it over to two
profitable nonprofit corporations (SDC and MITRE)
to assist the Defense Department and Congress in stealing trillions of dollars
from taxpayers and giving it to crooked corporations such as IBM, AT&T, GE,
Boeing, Lockheed, Convair, etc., making it the biggest fraud of the 20th
century. However, that information was classified “SECRET” so that if anyone
involved talked about it they would go to jail, a practice that is still widely
used for modern Military, Industrial, Congressional Conspiracies (MICC). See SAGE
like Forrest Gump.
MIT also played a central role in creating
3. General-Purpose Timesharing, which was inspired by SAGE. A number of
us at MIT wrote proposals for how to do it. The person who got there first was
a new Assistant Professor John McCarthy, who devised a scheme using program interrupts. He called it timesharing and inspired
a number of MIT groups to build prototypes, including Project Mac,
which was the most popular of the eight or so timesharing systems developed at
MIT and went on to largely replace batch processing, initially using large
computers supporting many users, which caused them to slow down under heavy
loads. Advancing technology enabled the use of personal computers, which
appealed to many people but provided no new capabilities.
appeared in Arpanet, the specifications for which came out of a committee that
was dominated by former MIT graduate students, including me, and was funded by
ARPA (Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency) under the
leadership of J.C.R. “Lick” Licklider from MIT, who was an old friend of
mine, then carried on by Ivan Sutherland,
another friend, who had recently earned his PhD at MIT. It was developed under
contract by BBN, an MIT spin-off corporation.
Ivan then tried to recruit me to his ARPA
group but having worked for a decade as a Defense Department pirate (see
“Piracy Tax,” below), I said that my goal was to get as far from the Pentagon as
possible. Ivan then kindly invited me to go to Stanford University to set up a
new computer research lab, which I named SAIL (Stanford Artificial Intelligence
Laboratory) because John McCarthy would be the Principal Investigator and had
introduced the AI term, which I came to hate because it too was fraudulent, but
that is another story.
I thus got to create and manage SAIL, a
very enjoyable and productive but challenging experience, while Ivan recruited Bob Taylor to take over his office as he became a
5. Internet Protocols were developed by a Stanford research
group headed by Vint Cerf and enabled computer networking to utilize diverse
networking elements, including satellite links. I helped Vint
round up funding using our SAIL contract with ARPA.
interfaces and was initiated at CERN by Tim Berners-Lee,
who now maintains it at MIT. His formatting language, HTML, used many of the same elements as the
PUB documentation language that had been developed years earlier by Larry Tesler and me.
Thus, MIT has played a significant part in
developing all networking technologies and I have had at least a finger in on
all of it except for core memory, which has since been superseded. These
developments were all done in open-source mode, enabling rapid progress. I
expect more such developments will soon improve security and enable a more
versatile and useful Internet.