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The Boston Globe


Katharine Whittemore

Please Discuss: Seven books on the Internet

In one week and change, we’ll hit the 30th anniversary of the invention of the Internet. To be honest, there’s some squabbling about just when the Net was born; the creation stories are as diffuse as the thing itself. But most choose Jan. 1, 1983, because that’s when a score of isolated computer systems in and out of the academic-military group ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) agreed to link up using electronic rules that still underpin the Internet today. And so a bunch of disparate groups — like the University of San Diego, NASA, HEPnet (for high-energy physicists), EUnet (the old European network) and workers at Xerox — got to talk amongst themselves.

This cyber barn-raising had a local angle. It was partly overseen by the Cambridge engineering firm of Bolt, Beranek, and Newman and to make the deadline, systems admin guys pulled all-nighters on New Year’s Eve. In geek terms, they switched the communications protocol, or language, from Network Control Protocol to Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. One guy even made souvenir buttons: “I survived the TCP/IP Transition.” ( sells replicas for a bit over two bucks.)

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