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Chapter 08 - Networking: Diffusion 1972-1979

8.5 A Proliferation of Communication Projects

The idea that a limited number of computers could serve all users - the vision that had inspired the development of Arpanet - no longer described computer conditions in the United States. The success of the IBM System 360/370 Series, the continuing efforts of other mainframe computer companies to establish market presence, and the gathering number of minicomputer companies created a hodgepodge of computer use that encouraged all manners of computer interconnection.

Companies, universities, the military, and various government agencies all contributed to the growing diversity of computer networks.27 Most commercial networks, such as Control Data Corp.’s CYBERNET and IBM’s TSS Network, employed traditional data communication products – modems, multiplexers, and front-end concentrators – and continued in the circuit-switching vein. Competitive products from start-ups, such as Tymshare and Telenet, employed variations of packet switching. University networks also tended to employ traditional techniques and, while generally confined to a single campus, multiple universities sometimes joined together to form an “educational computing network,” such as the MERIT Network of Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and University of Michigan.

More adventuresome networking projects tended to be funded by either the military or government research agencies. An example of a sophisticated network developed by a government agency was the Octopus system at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. And then there were networking projects funded by government agencies at universities, the most important being a National Science Foundation funded network at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) conceived and managed by David Farber.

  • [27]

    David J. Farber, “Networks: An Introduction,” Datamation, April 1972, pps. 36-39