David G. Wiseman

The Big Bang (or the birth of the ARPANET)


                               THE BIG BANG!
                       (or the birth of the ARPANET)
                                    by
                             Leonard Kleinrock

   It was back in '67 that the clan agreed to meet.
   The gangsters and the planners were a breed damned hard to beat.
   The goal we set was honest and the need was clear to all:
   Connect those big old mainframes and the minis, lest they fall.

   The spec was set quite rigid:  it must work without a hitch.
   It should stand a single failure with an unattended switch.
   Files at hefty throughput 'cross the ARPANET must zip.
   Send the interactive traffic on a quarter second trip.

   The spec went out to bidders and t'was BBN that won.
   They worked on soft and hardware and they all got paid for fun.
   We decided that the first node would be we who are your hosts
   And so today you're gathered here while UCLA boasts.

   I suspect you might be asking "What means FIRST node on the net?"
   Well frankly, it meant trouble, 'specially since no specs were set.
   For you see the interface between the nascent IMP and HOST
   Was a confidential secret from us folks on the West coast.

   BBN had promised that the IMP was running late.
   We welcomed any slippage in the deadly scheduled date.
   But one day after Labor Day, it was plopped down at our gate!
   Those dirty rotten scoundrels sent the damned thing out air freight!

   As I recall that Tuesday, it makes me want to cry.
   Everybody's brother came to blame the other guy!
   Folks were there from ARPA, GTE and Honeywell.
   UCLA and ATT and all were scared as hell.

   We cautiously connected and the bits began to flow.
   The pieces really functioned - just why I still don't know.
   Messages were moving pretty well by Wednesday morn.
   All the rest is history - packet switching had been born!

Ha, ha, ha. Take me back to [ the alphabetic list ] [ the date-ordered list ].