Historical Overview of Major Networks
Business Aspects of Computer Networking
Factors In Use of Computer Communications
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF MAJOR NETWORKS
From Patrick_A_Townson@cup.portal.com Sun Sep 18 03:06:06 1988
Subject: Report Card On University E-MAIL
Date: 18 Sep 88 07:06:06 GMT
Organization: The Portal System (TM)
Posted: Sun Sep 18 03:06:06 1988
EMMS/Electronic Mail & Micro Systems Newsletter, dated September 1, 1988
(Volume 12, Number 17) published an interesting report which discusses
USENET and ARPANET in detail. I am reprinting it here for your information
and hope you find it useful. It is *long*.
REPORT CARD ON UNIVERSITY E-MAIL
University researchers may have originated the concept of computer-based
electronic mail twenty years ago, but their e-mail activities have since become
obscured by the shadow of publicity given to well-known common carriers and
computer vendors. In spite of the news blackout, the non-commercial 'Internet'
e-mail community remains large and growing. How large is a question that EMMS
cannot approach answering. The usual measures do not work. Although these
research-oriented e-mail systems fit the definition of public networks, they
usually do not charge by the message or by the minute. In some respects they
are somewhat like wide-area private e-mail networks.
The grandfather e-mail network of them all is ARPANET, created in the late
1960's by the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
It began modestly, with four nodes trading defense secrets and research results
over packetized computer links in 1970. File transfer and e-mail became the
most popular uses of the network.
Long wait for access: But it proved to be too popular for its own good
Although the original users were doing defense-oriented research, they were not
always talking shop over ARPANET. Although the chit-chat was discouraged, it
nevertheless helped fill up the network. As more and more sites inside and
outside academia were added, the network began bumping up against capacity.
The best guess for a count of end users is currently 35,000 people. DoD most
recently estimated that 150 universities are connected, with countless others
who can't be accommodated for lack of network space. However this may change
as DARPA begins to plan an upgrade to T1 and eventually T3 speeds.
There are approximately 3,300 institutions of higher education in the United
States, most of whom would welcome the prestige and funding that would surely
follow an ARPANET connection. Once you are in, you have a free link to the
major players in defense-oriented research in both private industry and the
government. But with less than 5 percent of all colleges on ARPANET, there
are far fewer insiders than outsiders.
Alternatives to ARPANET: By 1980, it became apparent that ARPANET could not
on its own serve the needs of university researchers. Not all university
research is done for the military, and not all network traffic was relevant to
research. Each year approximately 200,000 bachelors, masters and doctoral
degrees are conferred in the fields of computer science, engineering and
communications. Very few of these students ever see an ARPANET session.
Three new communities of university-based computer users sprang forth to
fill the need. One network, called USENET, literally created itself. Another,
called BITNET, positioned itself as a middle ground between the chaos of
USENET and the discipline of ARPANET. Yet a third group, united under the
banner of the National Science Foundation (NSF), opened a variety of national
and local networks tailored to the non-military needs of university
Quantifying usage among university researchers has proved to be elusive. EMMS
was able to gather self-reported statistics on the number of nodes for some
networks, but few were willing to hazard a guess on the number of mailboxes
or messages. The NSF, though, reported carrying 4.1 billion bytes of e-mail
alone in January on its new NSFnet backbone network, which implies a run rate
of 3 to 10 million messages a month on that single system.
Order Amid The Chaos: USENET, a case study in high-tech anarchy, is dependent
upon the willingness of hundreds of volunteers to make dozens of daily phone
calls in order to transport the network's e-mail and news services. Using the
Unix operating system and the uucp e-mail utility contained within it, one
computer calls another and exchanges electronic mailbags. In the July 1 issue,
EMMS listed a total of 873,000 Unix-based e-mail software users. Almost one
in eight are believed to access Usenet regularly.
In terms of sheer bytes created, the news groups on USENET seem to create
about twice as much text as e-mail. The system is estimated to carry about
1200 messages and about 2 megabytes of news daily. However, the news is
distributed to hundreds of locations, while the e-mail is sent only to the
designated recipients. In terms of bytes actually received and read, USENET
may be 90 percent bulletin board news.
USENET traces its beginnings to 1980, when two universities (Duke University
and the University of North Carolina) began an experimental e-mail system.
One computer called the other and executed a file transfer in each direction.
Eventually, other sites joined. They simply called both Duke and UNC every
day and exchanged mailbags. As USENET grew to hundreds of sites, though, it
became impossible for everybody to call everybody else. It's since grown to
the point where many veterans lament that it is too big, and too distributed,
for its own good. The best guess of its current size is about 7000 computers
with some 100,000 end users.
E-mail Survey Results: The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA),
reported in an annual survey of major business schools that usage of public
e-mail networks was growing at institutions of higher learning. In its fourth
annual survey of 128 business schools, published in July by the Association
for Computing Machinery (ACM), the researchers found that almost 65 percent
of respondents used a public e-mail service. The results are summarized in
Table 1: Public E-Mail Usage On Campus
UCLA Survey of 128 Business Schools
Network Name: Percent Using
(totals exceed 100 percent; some use more than one network)
Table 1: Public E-Mail Usage On Campus
UCLA Survey of 128 Business Schools
Network Name: Percent Using
(totals exceed 100 percent; some use more than one network)
The problem for the e-mail industry is that such usage, while encouraging,
is not producing much revenue. Not-for-profit networks do not overtly
compete with commercial e-mail services for customers. But given the choice
between paying for an MCI Mail message or *not paying to post on USENET* (my
emphasis), many users will stick with the free alternatives. In fact, only
three fee-based public services registered on the UCLA survey: CompuServe
(11 percent), The Source (4 percent) and MCI Mail (3 percent). Two up-and-
coming research networks, the non-commercial NSFnet and the commercial Omnet
Inc (Boston) ScienceNet e-mail system, will probably show up in next year's
It should be stressed that none of the above networks are free. In some, end
users themselves absorb the network costs, and donate the computer cycles.
In others, the network authority charges a monthly or annual membership fee,
which entitles an organization to unlimited usage. So although there may not
be a per-message or per-minute charge, there is no such thing as a free
lunch in e-mail.
Depending On The Goodness Of Others: USENET is also very popular outside of
universities, especially with computer programmers in private industry. As
with BITNET users, graduates who go on to private industry frequently keep
up with the contacts they made while in school. Some establish nodes at their
new jobs, sweeping their employers into the system in the process. At the
very least, they are usually able to dial into their alma mater's post office
USENET follows a hierarchical tree structure, in which there are now about
50 'backbone' sites that have volunteered to act as central hubs for USENET
traffic. Some are located at universities. Others are operated by private
companies. All are identified with a specific person who volunteers the time
and money it takes to make 30 - 40 calls a day and take another 20 - 30
calls. Mathematically, the 50 backbone sites would need to make 1225 calls
(or 25 each) to insure that every hub trades mailbags with every other hub.
But since USENET is not rigidly defined, some hubs are busier than others.
Besides calling other backbones, the hubs also connect with between 300 and
400 'branch' sites. Each backbone makes about five calls per day, either to
download files from another backbone or to forward files on to a branch.
Branches must also take calls from 'leaf' sites, the most populated part of
the USENET tree. There may be six or seven thousand of these; nobody really
knows for sure. Most are Unix micros, ranging from single user Xenix PCs to
Apollo or Sun workstations. The leaves make local calls to send and receive
files, but they normally do not have to forward mailbags.
The Good Neighbor Policy: The leaf sites are on their own when it comes to
finding a nearby branch site willing to take their call every day. Unlike
common carriers, Usenet volunteers can choose their clients quite arbitrarily.
They don't have to bear the cost of forwarding mail for free, although they
do so in the spirit of cooperation which pervades the network.
In addition, successful e-mail senders would have to know the path their
messages will take ahead of time, and know the symbols of each hop in the
message transfer. Addressing is somewhat chaotic (*tell me* about it, says
your humble typist/transcriber!), with several intermediate nodes involved
in any given message transfer path. The originator must specify the path
explicitly, which necessitates a detailed knowledge of the network. This
creates a level of difficulty that dissuades most users from creating
significant amounts of e-mail. Instead, they prefer to be recipients, both of
their e-mail and of whatever electronic newsletters and discussion groups
There are about 300 or so special interest groups, operating electronic
bulletin board systems under the banner of Usenet News, who create about one
or two megabytes of postings daily on topics ranging from real estate to
artificial intelligence. Like any electronic newsletter, they receive a
good portion of their contributions from subscribers. There is an editor for
each group, more than likely a person who also operates a backbone or branch
The Faster The Better: Each site decides which Usenet News topics to download.
Some sites download everything into their VAX computers so that any locally
connected terminal can access the data on any topic without the need to make
a phone call. However most sites choose a subset of the whole feed and use
high-speed modems to bring their online average down below an hour a day. Many
are using the high-speed Telebit Trailblazer modems, which seem to be quite
popular with heavy phone users.
But people get tired. They can also choose when their computers are overloaded,
which is the case with most hubs and branches at present. The first few cracks
have already appeared in the Good Neighbor Policy. AT&T, which operates a
USENET backbone site in addition to its own vast internal uucp network (not to
mention AT&T Mail), will no longer forward e-mail for third parties. It will
still make the Usenet News available to its branches, but e-mail no longer
gets a free ride. Other hub sites may adopt similar stances in time. In order
to serve the growing number of leaf sites that wanted but couldn't get USENET
access, the operator of one of the backbone sites created a subscription
service called UUNet. Rick Adams, operator of the old 'seismo' hub, convinced
Usenix, an association of technical and professional Unix users, to sponsor
For a basic flat fee of $35 per month, a leaf site can subscribe to the UUnet
backbone node. UUnet is reachable both through WATS lines and a Tymnet
gateway. Subscribers can choose to call through WATS or Tymnet, which entails
an additional charge, or call UUnet directly and pay for the long distance
call themselves. So far, UUnet has attracted about 400 clients. For more
information on UUnet, call voice to 703-764-9789.
Reselling USENET news? Donnalyn Frey, press liason for both Usenix and UUnet,
said the node is not operated for profit. In fact, she said Usenix makes the
Usenet News available through two commercial services in the Bay Area: The
Well (Sausalito) and PORTAL COMMUNICATIONS (Cupertino), which in turn sell
it to their subscribers. Portal charges $10 per month. It is available through
the Telenet PC Pursuit service for an additional $25 per month.
BITNET, which showed up in more than half the schools responding to the
UCLA survey, is quite popular with university computer centers. Like USENET,
it also began as an alternative to ARPANET for university based programmers
and other computer technology buffs. It is now used by 1500 computers at
380 different sites, and is believed to be the most widely used e-mail
network on campus.
For a non-commercial service, it is startling to find that BITNET maintains
over 400 e-mail distribution lists for its end users. People who need to
send multiple recipients a news item or memo can send one copy to a
distribution list they can store at any of 120 sites. That node then creates
and sends the carbon copies.
Incorporating More Control: But until recently, Bitnet had no central control.
The rules against self-promotion or commercial usage were hard to enforce,
because there was no central authority. About all that could be done was
to remove an offending node from the directory -- cut their feed -- so
they could not exchange mailbags. Now that BITNET has become Bitnet, Inc.,
based in Princeton, NJ, a little more central control is reported to be
on the way.
BITNET is most popular with university computer centers. USENET is more
popular with individuals. ARPANET closely tracks the high-tech military
research community. A fourth group, guided by the National Science Foundation,
has found success with computer science and engineering departments within
Gateways To ARPANET: The NSF began funding alternatives to ARPANET in 1981.
One of its first projects was called CSNET, which was organized to provide
computer science departments with gateway access to ARPANET. CSNET has since
grown into an e-mail network in its own right, with about 185 sites
participating at present. About 60 percent are universities, 35 percent
are private industry, and 5 percent are government, according to spokesman
John Rugo. He said the balance is shifting in favor of private industry,
as more and more schools defect to newer NSF network alternatives.
Rugo, while acting as spokesman for CSNET, is actually an employee of
Bolt Beranek & Newman, Inc. (Cambridge, MA), which was intimately involved
in the creation and operation of ARPANET. It also operates many of the
internet gateways such as those between CSNET and both ARPANET and Telenet.
BBN is also closely linked to the NSF networks in a support role.
Paving The E-Mail Superhighway: The NSF also became involved with super-
computer centers several years ago. Two years ago, NSF funded the creation of
a high speed link between supercomputers at the University of Illinois and
Cornell University. That endeavour grew up to become what is now called
Feeding into NSFnet are several tributory networks, most of which are
organized by state or region. Some, such as CSNET, are organized by
profession rather than by location. Others, such as ARPANET are interconnected
even though there is no clear NSF relationship. The system currently
connects about 200 campuses linked to the 13 nodes which form the national
TCP/IP Won't Go Away: NSFnet currently uses the TCP/IP (Transmission Control
Protocol/Internet Protocol) first made famous by ARPANET twenty years ago.
The Internet Protocol is old; it is inefficient; it is prone to crashes; and
it won't carry networking into the gigabit range, let alone the megabit speeds
of T1 and T3 links. But despite predictions of its demise, TCP/IP is actually
gaining followers outside the Unix and Darpa communities.
It would make little sense to re-engineer TCP/IP since modern alternatives
such as X.400 and FTAM are available. The NSF networks plan to graduate to
the Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) protocols by 1990. The primary 'vendors'
for NSFnet (the equipment and service is donated by IBM and MCI, respectively)
are committed to an OSI path, but for now the community is sticking with
what is available.
Karen Roubicek, BBN's NSFnet Service Center Manager, said a major test of
the network's resiliency is occurring now, as academia returns for the new
term. A 56K-to-T1 line speed upgrade, finished on time this past July, has
yet to carry a full load. She said she expects usage to explode, though, as
supercomputer users come back from summer vacation to discover they can work
27 times faster than before.
Pricing Schemes On The Way? At present, NSFnet members pay annual dues, but
not user fees. Roubicek and Rugo said the NSF style is to conceive and fund
a network, but to push it in the direction of self-funding through member
dues, as is the case now with CSNET. For NSFnet, though, it is very possible
that the tributory networks will impose pricing schemes of their own, since
they must also become self-sufficient over time.
NSFnet is also trying to attract more researchers from private industry. But
even if a pricing scheme is adopted, Roubicek said she doubts the network
would allow commercial applications. This they hold in common with CSNET,
USENET and BITNET. The four e-mail networks, in one respect alternatives to
ARPANET, are in another respect alternatives to commercial e-mail services.
They are sheltered from the business world, and they cling to their non-
And that is the complete transcription of an article entitled "Report Card On
University E-Mail" which appeared in the September 1, 1988 edition of
EMMS/Electronic Mail & Micro Systems Newsletter. (Volume 12, Number 17).
The EMMS Newsletter is published bi-weekly at 21 Locust Avenue, #1-C,
New Canaan, CT. Regretfully, the article did not include the name of an
author, but was probably compiled by either the editor, Eric Arnum, or the
contributing editor, Stephen A. Caswell. Their phone is 203-966-2525.
[Excerpted from Networking, by Mary Scott Welch, 1981]
Personal networking is the attempt by an individual to cultivate as many good 'contacts' as possible in order to have help in furthering their personal aims and ambitions. Contacts can provide: feedback, referrals, information, opportunities, advice, emotional or financial support, other contacts.
It is a two way street, however, insofar as it means giving as well as receiving the above advantages. Reciprocal favours are very important in successful personal networking.
Successful networkers make a point of initiating contact and maintaining it periodically with as many people they think important to get where they want to go.
- figure out where you want to go
- subscribe to pertinent newsletters, get on mailing lists
- keep a file for contact information
- get an appointment book and calendar
- tell them what you're doing, find out what they're doing, and see how you might aid each other
- look for common ground
- find out what connections you have
- maintain records of your encounters and the information resulting from them
- follow up afterward, perhaps invite a third person to the next meeting
- 'people hop'
- follow through with any promises made
1. Draw up a chart of your present networking - personal and professional connections
2. Chart the network of connections you have to develop to accomplish your aims - individuals and/or occupations
3. Strategize on how to meet the contacts you need to make
4. Set a schedule for yourself and stick with it.
- Network support is based on performance. There is no substitute for being seen as good at your job, and there are two parts to that: doing good work and letting other people know it.
- Any member of your network will help only as much as she can without diminishing her own influence.
- What you do with your networking resources is up to you. You can't sit back and wait for someone to take you in hand.
Networking Do's and Don'ts
Do try to give as much as you get
Don't be afraid to ask for what you need.
Do report back to anyone who has given you a lead.
Do follow up on any leads and names you've been given.
Don't tell everything to everybody.
Do be businesslike in your approach to your network.
Don't pass up any opportunities to network.
Don't neglect traditional organizations.
Do read up on the subject...before you ask questions.
Do keep in touch with your old network as you move up.
Don't expect your network to function as a placement office.
Do call members of your network "for no reason at all". That is, don't wait to call until you need something.
Do bring your network into play with particular care when you're about to enter unfamiliar territory.
Don't be discouraged if someone brushes you off.
Do call ahead when you've given someone's name to a person in your network.
Do refine your questions.
Do keep expanding your network.
Do ask for only one thing at a time - information, referral, moral support.
Do watch your timing.
Don't expect an instant, magic answer.
Do take advice when you've asked for it.
Do offer your help generously.
Don't tell anyone what to do, even if she asks you to. Above all, don't do it for her.
Do make certain guidelines clear to your constituency, i.e., the limits to your assistance.
Do be on the alert to hear such guidelines from others, too.
Do deliver on your promises.
Do pick the right people to ask for what you need.
Do take others up on their offers to help.
Do include all ages of people in your network.
Do try to circulate at network meetings.
Do wake up to the "petty cash" aspects of networking over food or drinks.
Do be prepared for a slump following your initial excitement over learning to network.
BUSINESS ASPECTS OF COMPUTER NETWORKING
- phone calls
- promotional materials
- client database / files
- accounting / bookkeeping
- mailing bills
- rent, heat, lights, water, etc.
- cleaning, renovations
- furniture, equipment, supplies
- client reception (telephone, in person)
- communications (mail, fax, courier, online)
- policy creation
- budget / business plans
R & D
- Hardware, software
- Online environment
Scanning of Business Environment
- Other affiliated services, e.g., telephone companies
- Collegial systems
- Gatewayed systems
- Paid staff
- Board of Directors
- public relations
FACTORS IN USE OF COMPUTER COMMUNICATIONS
how many people do you need to communicate with?
how many are online now? On which networks?
how many could (and would) get online?
how far away?
for what purpose?
For obtaining information
what subject area?
for what purpose?
For distributing information
what subject area?
to which audience?
What are the goals of the organization?
What are its strategies?
How can computer communications enhance these?
How much money and staff time is currently spent on:
long-distance telephone calls?
computer or terminal? what kind?
modem? what speed?
using Local Area Network (LAN)?
party line or extensions?
clean line (no 'noise')?
need special adaptor for local office telephone system?
communications software? what kind?
If no equipment available, is there access to someone else's?
If no equipment at present, intention to acquire? When?
3. EXPERIENCE / KNOWLEDGE
understanding of concepts involved?
present or previous experience with computer communications? What kind?
know how to use a computer?
know how to use a modem?
know how to use communications software?
need help with:
setting up equipment?
learning to use a computer?
learning to access and use a Network?
how positive/negative are feelings about computer communications?
what are prior expectations regarding:
degree of difficulty?
amount of time needed?
to what extent can the costs of using the Network be afforded?
can costs be shared with someone else?
how much time can be made available to learn, and then use, the system?
6. ORGANIZATIONAL FACTORS
Degree of change needed
size of organization?
number of people immediately involved?
what kind of hurdles need to be overcome?
can a plan be created for successful implementation?
'Champion' or core group of enthusiasts available?
how much power?
how long to stay?
ability to initiate and sustain necessary organizational change?
willingness and ability to act as facilitator both online and offline?
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