[TUHS] TUHS Digest, Vol 14, Issue 63

Brad Spencer brad at anduin.eldar.org
Tue Jan 17 10:30:29 AEST 2017

jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu (Noel Chiappa) writes:

>     > From: Larry McVoy
>     > It is pretty stunning that the company that had the largest network in
>     > the world (the phone system of course) didn't get packet switching at
>     > all.
> Actually, it's quite logical - and in fact, the lack of 'getting it' about
> packets follows directly from the former (their large existing circuit switch
> network).
> This dates back to Baran (see his oral history:
>   https://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/107101
> pg. 19 and on), but it was still detectable almost two decades later.

I was at AT&T much later then most who have commented, in 1992+ and I am
pretty sure that a lot of people at that time who had been at AT&T a
while STILL did not get packet networks.

> For a variety of all-too-human reasons (of the flavour of 'we're the
> networking experts, what do you know'; 'we know all about circuit networks,
> this packet stuff is too different'; 'we don't want to obsolete our giant
> investment', etc, etc), along with genuine concerns about some real issues of
> packet switching (e.g. the congestion stuff, and how well the system handled
> load and overload), packet switching just was a bridge too far from what they
> already had.

I can't fully explain it, but "a bridge too far" does describe it well.
Everything had to be a circuit and it if wasn't, well, it was viewed
with a great deal of suspicion.  I worked with a lot of very smart and
talented folks, but this was a real blind spot.

> Think IBM and timesharing versus batch and mainframe versus small computers.
> 	Noel

Brad Spencer - brad at anduin.eldar.org - KC8VKS
http://anduin.eldar.org  - & -  http://anduin.ipv6.eldar.org [IPv6 only]

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