[TUHS] RT/PC-centric AIX history

Ron Natalie ron at ronnatalie.com
Sat Mar 11 06:07:06 AEST 2017

Well, the other big network that used imps was the MILNET.    I had the
dubious distinction of having the only router (other than the "mail
bridges") that was on the MILNET after they split the ARPANET.
And indeed, the NSA, BRL, and a few others had IMP based systems (we even
had TACs at BRL).

> The first routers used in the NSFNET were things called Fuzzballs -
PDP-11's running software from Dave Mills, driving 56KB lines.

Dave was certainly PI on that project, but a lot of the work was done by
Mike Petry and Louis Mamakos at the Unviersity of Maryland.   Cornell (Scott
Brim) had the operational responsibility to keep the initial NSFNet backbone
>  They eventually decided they needed to step up a level, and a consortium
involving IBM won, with IBM RT PC's running AIX driving T1 lines.

MERIT was the prime contracator.   They indeed were backed by IBM (Jakob
Recktor primarily).   In fact, the computers didn't drive the T1 lines
directly.   Fearing their commo cards weren't fast enough to drive a T1 at
full speed, they used muxes to break the T1 into 500K lines and set up some
virtual circuits to provide a bit more interesting networking technogy.

I was actually on the committee that evaluated those bids.   I just found
all that stuff filed away when I moved recently.    There were six proposals
considered.   Of the six, three were thought to be actually implementable:
UCAR (with BBN), MERIT (with IBM), and NyserNet (Cisco?   I'm having a hard
time remembering).    There were also three other proposals including one
from DEC which really wasn't all that well thought out (I don't recall the
other two).    The pane was me, Jake Fienler (SRI NIC), Jon Postel, and a
few others.    My old boss from BRL, Steve Wulff, was the NSF honcho in
charge.   He went on to Cisco after his stint at NSF.

I can remember that after the technical eval, we looked at the bid prices.
If I remember it was $45MM for Nyser, $30MM for UCAR, and $15MM for Merit.

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