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[ih] New journal article on IMPs, modems and gateways


Thank you for posting the pointer to this article to the Internet History
list.    I've finally had a chance to read it, and I have a few comments.

1.  Your paper investigates ARPANET IMPs (and internet gateways) as
boundary devices, insulating two technical spheres ("computer people" and
"telephone people") from each other.  This, in my opinion, is absolutely
correct.  But then you go on to suggest that these two spheres are not
really so distinct, and that "it was not inconceivable that control of the
publicly-funded ARPANET would be transferred to the national
telecommunications monopoly. ... While it is unclear how seriously AT&T
considered taking over ARPANET."  I believe that AT&T DID seriously
consider taking over ARPANET and firmly rejected the idea as of no
practical interest to their mission.  For example, in the Computer History
Museum transcript of an interview with Dr. Lawrence "Larry" Roberts [
page 14, Larry says about AT&T: "They were formally approached. The
Washington division was excited. They said to me there was a lot of revenue
they were getting from the leased lines; they thought it was great. They
got excited about it, and Bell Labs got involved, and they had a huge
committee, and I presume they went over and over it, and they kept on
looking at it, and eventually -- they never gave a response, because that
was their way of doing business, but I found out that Bell Labs had said:
'No, it was not compatible with the plan.' "   I understand this to mean
that leasing lines with data modems was within the plan, but actually
fussing with any of the data going over the lines was outside the plan.
This seems to me entirely consistent with the AT&T philosophy of "carrying
signals is our business, understanding the signals is NOT our business."

2. On page 14 you suggest that the "market-oriented logic" of the internet
concept led to the break-up of the Bell monopoly.  I believe this is
incorrect.  I believe AT&T proposed the break-up (to the court hearing a US
Department of Justice lawsuit for antitrust violations against AT&T) as a
strategy to avoid losing its anti-trust case.  I do not believe the logic
of the internet design had anything to do with the outcome of this case.
Can you cite any evidence to support your viewpoint?

3. Your description of the TIP (page 8) is slightly incorrect.  The TIP had
64 ports, but due to a program limitation only 63 of the ports could be
used.  Any port could be connected to either a modem or a directly-wired
terminal.  Your description suggests that at most 16 modems could be
connected, but in fact 63 modems could be connected (if there were no
directly-connected terminals) but this never happened.  The directly-wired
devices were not restricted to "teleprinter or video terminals"; some TIPs
had line printers or other non-interactive devices attached to some ports.

I know this is all a bit pedantic and nit-picky, but I hate to have the
historical record distorted by misunderstandings in the printed literature.

Alex McKenzie
BBN 1967-1996

On Sun, Jan 6, 2019 at 10:44 PM Fenwick Mckelvey <
fenwick.mckelvey at concordia.ca> wrote:

> Hi,
> Kevin Driscoll and I are happy to share our new article on the interface
> message processor, modems and gateways published in the special issue on
> ARPANET in the Internet Histories journal.
> You can view the article for free at:
> https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/yMkaE54yuIerwcwViDnE/full
> Our article focuses on the IMP?s relation to the telephone system ? all
> its work connecting nodes through long lines and modems ? and to the
> history of gateways. We hope the article inspires more interest in our
> fields on gateways and other devices at the margins that connected computer
> networks over the years. As media historians, we are hoping to collect more
> examples, especially specific gateways, and welcome suggestions of where to
> look next.
> For me, the article was also a chance to focus more on IMPs in context,
> building on some insights from my new book Internet Daemons,
> http://internetdaemons.com.
> If you have any questions or comments, we?d love to hear them.
> Finally, a big thanks to Dave Walden for his feedback in writing this
> manuscript. His website, book and comments made this publication possible.
> All our errors are our own.
> Hope you enoy!
> Best,
> Fenwick
> Associate Professor, Communication Studies
> Concordia University
> http://www.fenwickmckelvey.com
> _______
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