Did Internet Founders Actually Anticipate Paid, Prioritized Traffic?

Barry Shein bzs at world.std.com
Mon Sep 13 17:39:31 UTC 2010

Oh and one more thing...

In the "early internet", let's call that prior to 1990, the hierarchy
wasn't price etc, it was:

   1. ARPA/ONR (and later NSF) Research sites and actual network research
   2. Faculty with funding from 1 at major university research sites
   3. Faculty with funding from 1 at not so major universities
   4. Faculty at 2 and 3 w/o actual research grants from 1
   4. Students at 2 and 3 (tho less so at 3)
   5. Everyone else who managed to sneak onto the net (DEC salesmen etc)

People worried a fair amount about bandwidth on a network with a 56kb
backbone. And those thoughts tended to turn to those hierarchies.

I remember when word got out that some UK postal facility had demanded
and gotten a set-up so they could sample email traffic on the ARPAnet
(circa 1980?) to determine whether or not it was all truly research or
were people using this govt-funded research facility to chit-chat and
thereby depriving them of postage. They basically wanted postage on
email paid to them and were trying to make their case.

Warnings went out, I used the arpanet via an acct at MIT at the time
so that must be where I saw the warnings about non-professional use of
the arpanet.

Anyhow, that was the pecking order.

The point being that there was a sense that there were "real" people
(i.e., properly funded faculty) who needed to do "real" work and some
of them expressed concern from time to time that they needed priority.

Remember that an early motivation for funding the net was so big fast
computers could be accessed by researchers who weren't at the same
facility as they were located, and that wasn't solved by cries for
their own big fast computer.

And that certainly went on in practice.

I was involved in writing a $100M proposal for Boston University for a
super-computing facility around 1986 and a major requirement was
describing how you would get remote researchers to it. It wasn't for
BU, per se, it was to be housed at BU. This was the competition that
gave us ETF and the Jon von Neumann computing center and all that
(that is, BU got nothing, which is probably about what they deserved,
but it was my job to help w/ their proposal so I did.)

You also had to figure out where to put 50-100 tons of chilled water
and where to get about 1.5MW of electric service if I remember the
numbers right, "a lot".

        -Barry Shein

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