Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The EU take on the history of the internet

History involves the study of cause and effect, and it is definitely in play with this video. It does a good job of telling the story of past events in the early history of the internet, but the European producers give much too much credit to European foundations for their contributions. Let's take the UK's National Physical Laboratory. The video gives credit to the NPL for introducing the concept of packet-switching, which is the foundation for scalable file transfer on the internet. While NPL did develop this concept somewhat independently, it was RAND Corp. in the U.S. that originally conceived of the concept that was later adopted by ARPANET. NPL did come up with the term "packet-switching". So OK, we can give them some credit.

The video goes on to credit Cyclades, the research institute in France, for the term "inter-net", which is, well, funny. Cyclades did great research on alternatives to the network protocols built into ARPANET, but nothing substantial made its way back to ARPANET. Cyclades eventually lost its funding and shut its doors in 1981.

Come on Europeans. I know you've had a bit of a complex through the years about your contributions to the early building blocks of the internet, but this lays it on too thick. You don't see Turkey taking credit away from France for the croissant do you? Oh right, you do.

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