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[ih] Impact of history on today's technology [was: why did CC happen at all?]

There is really no relation between the OSI naming and addressing 
work and DNS.  DNS is concerned with developing a naming scheme for 

Taking its cue from the early ARPANET discussions and the work on 
XNS, OSI was focused on naming Application Processes (to be 
location-independent, a research topic of late) and Network Entities 
(to be location-dependent but route-independent).  By 1982, the 
naming and addressing work in OSI had figured out that naming hosts 
was irrelevant to the problem and it was a very bad idea to embed an 
(N-1)-address in an (N)-address.

To some degree, X.500 had realized that a single naming hierarchy was 
both not necessary and probably not workable in the long term, but 
what they produce was probably too far in advance of the market.  The 
problem was that X.500 rather than limiting itself to mapping of 
application-process-names to network addresses tried to be the 
"yellow pages" or even Google (although hadn't realized that was what 
they were doing).  It had become clear that there was a very fine 
line between an X.500 name and a database query.  Some would say a 
line so fine it was invisible.  X.400 was captured by the phone 
companies and internal naming schemes.    The X.400 naming scheme was 
internal to that application, and was not part of the OSI 
architecture per se.

OSI was nothing but politics, but it had nothing to do with the 
Internet.  The Internet being an internal DoD network represented no 
market (or not a market of sufficient size) that any of the major 
computer businesses or phone companies cared about or took much 
notice of, i.e. it was not even a minor part of their revenue. At 
least that was the view of the companies participating in OSI.  To 
say "OSI had a view on this" would make no sense.  There was no "OSI 
view."  (This is not to say there was not a flock of small start ups 
competing for the Internet market such as it was in the early to mid 
1980s.)  Of course once the Internet became a public network that 
changed very quickly.

The primary political issues within OSI were the computer companies 
vs the phone companies, Europe vs the US vs Japan, and everyone 
against IBM.  The technical manifestation of that politics revolved 
primarily around connection/connectionless debate and starting in 
1975, the phone companies contention that a transport layer was 
unnecessary.  Although, there was a general opposition to most 
anything the phone companies proposed. (They were always so 

If you want an example of politics affecting actual protocol, look at 
OSI Transport.  When the PTTs found they couldn't stop it, they did 
the next best thing by confusing the issue with 5 classes.  The first 
3 for different ITU committees, and only one that was really needed. 
My favorite part of that was the PTTs saying one should use Class 0 
Transport (which did nothing) and then use RTSE in the Application 
Layer, which was a full Transport Protocol!  ;-)  Really funny!  But 
it allowed them to draw lines the way they wanted.  I was always 
amazed at how the Europeans were taken in by that ruse.

Maybe more tomorrow when I am less tired.

John Day
Rapporteur of the OSI Reference Model 1980-1990 or thereabouts
Rapporteur for OSI Naming and Addressing (same)

>On 9/4/2014 4:27 PM, Eric Gade wrote:
>>      /When engineers acquire a relatively well-defined problem to solve and
>>      //work in a relatively collaborative manner to solve it, it is difficult
>>      //to discern forces or processes that can reasonably be called
>>      "political"
>>      //in any practical sense./
>>  This might better apply to the technical implementation, I suppose. For
>You said "all technical decisions" and so I was focusing on... technical
>decisions of the DNS.  Design, specification, and the like.
>I believe the closest one could come to 'politics' for that early design
>effort was "the host table is to big and we need something with better
>scaling properties."
>>  I would call the intellectual climate of ARPA-Internet and OSI a
>>  political one. By that I mean politics internal to the community.
>And that's why I said "in theory" one can call all sorts of things
>The problem is that that word politics often gets used quite generically
>and even quite politically.  So I wanted to get to a very pragmatic
>point about technical decision environments in which there is no
>meaningful overtone or undertone of politics internal to the community
>doing the work.
>>  In the archives I found meeting notes etc which indicate quite
>>  explicitly that countries should be TLDs because the system being
>>  developed by IFIP (which was doing pre-standards work for
>>  naming/addressing for OSI) would have countries at the top. In fact,
>I'm so glad I included the caveat that I wasn't in the middle of that.
>On the other hand, I did participate a few of the x.500 discussions,
>which I assume is what you are referring to?
>Do you have a pointer to those minutes?
>>  There was an assumption by many non-Americans, and some Americans too,
>>  that OSI would subsume whatever standards ARPA developed. This
>Different issue.  Yes, OSI was assumed by most to be what would become
>the international standard.  And there certainly was massive politics
>and finance and organization commitment to it.  This goes to show that
>with enough effort, even a guaranteed success can be made to fail.
>In the case of X.400 the critical error -- besides the overall excessive
>complexity -- was entirely political, namely that telecom companies
>would be central switching services for all email; that's what comes of
>hosting the effort in a telecoms regulatory agency...
>X.500 made similar errors in pragmatics.
>>      /Intended?  "Fixed"?  Wherever did you get that idea from?/
>>  I can't tell if this is tongue-in-cheek. In case it isn't, this comes
>>  also from meeting notes, emails, and reports that are all archived at
>>  the Feinler collection at the Computer History Museum. "Fixed" is of
>>  course a fluid term here, but I've used it because it was used multiple
>>  times in the archival materials. The idea was that there would be a
>>  small set that would be enough for a person to remember.
>ack.  hmmm.
>Dave Crocker
>Brandenburg InternetWorking