On I go in my quest to learn more about the history of computing. After visiting the 1940s and 50s in Pioneer Programmer, I jumped forward a decade and a half to learn a bit more about the origins of the Internet.
While I knew that the Internet grew out of the ARPANET I had but a fuzzy idea so far. After reading Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon’s account “Where Wizzards Stay Up Late” about how engineers at Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) turned the ideas and visions of J.C.R. Licklider and others into reality and how people who’s names are well known in the industry today such as Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn got hooked and designed TCP/IP, a lot of things have become much clearer.
An interesting side note: The book was published long long ago in 1998 but since only events up until the mid-1980’s are described the book has aged well and is as readable and interesting today as it was over 15 years ago.
Coming back to the content, I found the book is very well researched and written and it’s fun to follow the story line. One thing I got a bit frustrated about at times was that it addresses a non-technical audience and hence doesn’t really go into the technical details. Instead it often tries to describe its way around the geeky stuff. Fortunately there’s the Internet and Wikipedia so it’s easy to get the details on specific parts of the story including easy access to original documents.
In other words a perfect symbiosis of story telling and online background research. Actually, it’s an interesting recursion as I used the Internet to download the book and also for doing background research, which means that the Internet practically tells it’s own story.
A highly recommended read!