23 Internet Myths Exposed by Darrell Jackson

By Darrell Jackson

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Eventually he won his colleagues’support. But winning over AT&T management, who would be called upon if such a network were to be built, proved nearly impossible. Baran’s first task was to show that the nation’s long-distance communications system (consisting of almost nothing but AT&T lines) would fail in a Soviet first strike. Not only did AT&T officials refuse to believe this but they also refused to let RAND use their long-distance circuit maps. RAND resorted to using a purloined set of AT&T Long Lines maps to analyze the telephone system’s vulnerability.

This time Roberts was more forthcoming. He told Taylor politely but unequivocally that he was enjoying his work at Lincoln and had no desire to become a Washington bureaucrat. Disconsolate, Taylor went to Cambridge to visit Lick, who was now back at MIT ensconced in a research effort on time-sharing called Project MAC. They discussed who else might be well suited to the job. Lick suggested a few people, but Taylor rejected them. He wanted Roberts. From then on, every two months or so, during visits to ARPA’s other Boston-area contractors, Taylor called on Roberts to try to persuade him to change his mind.

When Roberts returned to Washington, he found the RAND reports, which had actually been collecting dust in the Information Processing Techniques Office for months, and studied them. Roberts was designing this experimental network not with survivable communications as his main—or even secondary—concern. Nuclear war scenarios, and command and control issues, weren’t high on Roberts’s agenda. But Baran’s insights into data communications intrigued him nonetheless, and in early 1968 he met with Baran.

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