Inventing the Internet

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MIT Press, 2000 - Computers - 264 pages

Janet Abbate recounts the key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her main focus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internet's design and use.

Since the late 1960s the Internet has grown from a single experimental network serving a dozen sites in the United States to a network of networks linking millions of computers worldwide. In Inventing the Internet, Janet Abbate recounts the key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her main focus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internets design and use. The story she unfolds is an often twisting tale of collaboration and conflict among a remarkable variety of players, including government and military agencies, computer scientists in academia and industry, graduate students, telecommunications companies, standards organizations, and network users.

The story starts with the early networking breakthroughs formulated in Cold War think tanks and realized in the Defense Department's creation of the ARPANET. It ends with the emergence of the Internet and its rapid and seemingly chaotic growth. Abbate looks at how academic and military influences and attitudes shaped both networks; how the usual lines between producer and user of a technology were crossed with interesting and unique results; and how later users invented their own very successful applications, such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web. She concludes that such applications continue the trend of decentralized, user-driven development that has characterized the Internet's entire history and that the key to the Internet's success has been a commitment to flexibility and diversity, both in technical design and in organizational culture.

 

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User Review  - DoesNotCompute - LibraryThing

"The value of any network is directly related to the number of people it connects." This quote is not found anywhere in this book, but the Internet proves it's point. This delightful book is really ... Read full review

Inventing the Internet

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Abbate (history, Univ. of Maryland) provides what may be the finest extended work on Internet history and development to date. With an eye for the social constructs that shaped the Internet, she ... Read full review

Contents

White Heat and Cold War The Origins and Meanings of Packet Switching
7
Building the ARPANET Challenges and Strategies
43
The Most Neglected Element Users Transform the ARPANET
83
From ARPANET to Internet
113
The Internet in the International Standards Arena
147
Popularizing the Internet
181
Notes
221
Bibliography
241
Index
259
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Janet Abbate is Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech and the author of Inventing the Internet (MIT Press, 1999).

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