Sean Bassinger’s Mar. 31 Barometer opinion column, “Stay Web Savvy,” correctly credited the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as the origins of the Internet, but he did not mention the 1970s Oregon State University research project that designed a connection to the related Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) node in Hawaii via a satellite receiver on top of Dearborn Hall.
The OSU electrical engineering Professor leading this research program also taught a graduate seminar using a 1976 textbook written by his former colleague, Leonard Kleinrock, “Queuing Systems, Vol. II,” which included on page 309 a nearly complete map the entire internet in 1975 consisting of approximately 100 computers.
Back then, even the smartest EECS graduate students struggled to understand the significance of how Kleinrock’s theoretical equations statistically predicted the behavior of a digital computer network with variable delays and waiting times (i.e. queuing times) unlike the previous mathematically deterministic networks.
The military funded internet research because they desired communication channels that couldn’t be taken out with a single bomb, like you can with a traditional centralized telephone switch.
Today, OSU computer researchers need to address the problems caused by computer speeds increasing from tens of computations per second to trillions, while network speeds have not increased by the same orders of magnitude, commonly called “Moore’s law.”
Likewise, OSU social science researchers need to better understand the significance of the social networking problem, described by Bassinger as “unmarked satire news sources” being spread, as the truth, more broadly and efficiently due to the internet.
In my personal experience, the stereotypical, socially inept and super-analytical engineers who pioneered computer networks, would have never anticipated today’s social networking research problems.
OSU MSEE 1978