Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Would You Like to Play a Nice Game of Chess?

The Internet is 50 years old today.

I showed up ... well not early, but in 1986, well before the Eternal September. By 1990 I had my first domain (which celebrates its 30th anniversary in February), which picked up mail from MIT via dial up UUCP.  But that's getting ahead of the story ...

In 1986, the Internet was a more innocent place, and for that matter the preferred network protocols were still in flex. Clarkson University had IBM 3270 devices, dedicated serial lines, Bisync lines (including to BitNET), a modem pool, an X.25 network, and that year the school added a MILNET link.  (Clarkson got assigned, which means it got the 25th class B network.)

One day in the staff area of the ERC, three of us were trying out the new MILNET link when the head of operations (an ex-Marine) walked by. He quipped, "Yesterday you were hacking into the X.25 HVAC sensors. What is it today, the Pentagon?"

The VM systems programmer turned around and said, "As matter of fact, yes!"

(We were, too, thanks to a DoD civilian family member who shall go unnamed.)

The head of operations quietly slipped away with an odd look on his face.

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