In 2017, I realized a lot of the people I've worked with over the years were retiring. When these people leave the networking community, they take a wealth of knowledge about the intent, challenges, and inventions of the early Internet. I decided to capture as much of this history in oral format as possible--hence the history of networking recordings were started. I thought, at first, this would be a small, short-lived series, but I have been amazed by the reaction of the community, and the number of technologies and organizations involved in the design and operation of computer networks. Each of the recordings below is someone who either invented, popularized, or is intimately familiar with the origin of a technology or organization.
If you know of someone who should be here, please contact me, as I would like to collect as much oral history in this area as I can for this and future generations.
These recordings are released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This means recordings can be distributed for any noncommercial purposes by anyone, so long as they are released in full (with no modifications).
BABEL: Juliusz Chroboczek
BABEL is a lightweight protocol designed to support ad-hoc networks.
Tony Li: BGP
Before BGP, the Internet core (or default free zone) went through several protocols. In this recording, Tony Li discusses the origin of the Border Gateway Protocol.
Daniel Walton: BGP Churn and Addpaths
BGP is a nondeterminstic protocol, which means it can converge on different paths depending on the order in which they are received. In this recording, Daniel Walton talks about the discovery and research around BGP churn, and the solutions the routing community adopted to solve the problem.
Daniel Walton: BGP Optimizations
BGP implementations did not always have the ability to scale to millions of routes; Daniel Walton joins the history of networking to talk through the history of optimizing BGP for scale and speed.
John Frazier: BGP Route Servers and IXPs
BGP route servers play a critical role in the operation of an Internet Exchange Point (IXP). John Frazier joins the history of networking to discuss how he developed one of the first route servers while building an IX in Ohio.
Geoff Huston: BGP Security
BGP, the protocol that "runs the Internet," is notoriously open to various kinds of attacks. Geoff Huston joins the history of networking to explain how we got to this point, and some of the attempts made at fixing it.
BIER: Tony Przygienda
Supporting service meshes and multicast has always been a challenge on IP networks; BIER provides an answer to these problems.
The Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert: Terry Slattery and Bruce Pinsky
Certifications in networking really started with the CCIE.
Cisco CLI: Terry Slattery and Rob Widmer
Many different methods of configuration were available in the early days of configuring routers; Bay networks, for instance, provided on-screen navigation of SNMP MIBs. The CLI was a great improvement.
DECnet: Dave Oran
The story of DECnet labs is, in part, the story of how the inventions of some of the brightest minds in the early days of networking ultimately made their way into the Internet Protocol.
Distributed Denial of Service Attacks: Roland Dobbins
DDoS attacks have not always been as common as they are today, nor have the defensive systems used to protect networks against them. In this recording, Roland Dobbins, who helped to develop and deploy many of the anti-DDoS systems in use today, discusses the history of DDoS attacks.
DMVPN: Mike Sullenberger
We often seem to think that new ideas, like SD-WAN, "just come out of nowhere." In this recording of the history of networking, Mike Sullenberger joins us to talk about DMVPN, which is one of the technologies that drove the SD-WAN revolution.
Paul Mockapetris: DNS
DNS is a critical system in all networks, as it converts names to topological addresses where services can be found.
Paul Vixie: DNS Adoption
Even though DNS seems obvious now, it took a good coder to sit down and write an initial implementation to get the protocol deployed in early networks. Paul Vixie, who wrote the original BIND toolset, joins the history of networking.
Mark Kosters: WHOIS
WHOIS is a crucial protocol for the day-to-day operation of the Internet, providing information on who owns what address space, and how to contact them.
EIGRP: Donnie Savage
EIGRP was, at one time, a dominant routing protocol in large-scale networks.
eVPN: Rahul Aggarwal
eVPN uses BGP to carry information to form layer 2 and layer 3 overlays. eVPN has expanded, over time, to solve most overlay problems.
Fast Reroute: Alia Atlas
The IETF community designed and proposed a few different fast reroute solutions to improve packet switched network convergence.
Many different kinds of backplanes have been used to connect line cards and other components in network devices like routers, switches, and firewalls. The original custom-designed busses gave way to plain Ethernet busses, then to crossbars and Clos fabrics. Along the way more exotic designs, such as virtual meshes on top of toroids have been used, as well. Join Ken Duda, Russ White, and Donald Sharp as we discuss the many different kinds of backplanes and the history of their development.
Backpack: Yuval Bachar
The concept of disaggregation could not be taken seriously before the rise of merchant silicon. Yuval Bachar designed the Backback, one of the first "white box" routers in the world.
Silicon Switching Engine: Tony Li
Software switching on general purpose processors was the rule in early networks; in fact, one of the original differences between a router and a switch was whether packets were switched in hardware or software. In this recording, Tony Li discusses the first hardware switching router, the SSE, which he designed.
Divergence of Routing and Compute: Dinesh Dutt
In many ways, routers and switches are just special purpose computing platforms. How did they come to be considered completely different kinds of devices? Dinesh Dutt joins the history of networking to explain.
ILNP: Saleem Bhatti
Mobility problems in networks did not arise with the data center fabric and virtualized load. ILNP was designed to support mobility in IP networks on a campus or global scale.
LISP: Dino Farinacci
Location and identity are often bundled into a single "thing" in IP networking. One attempt to separate these two is the <em>Locater Identifier Separation Protocol,</em> or LISP. Dino Farinacci is the inventor of LISP.
Ross Callon: MPLS
Multiprotocol Label Switching, or MPLS, underlies much of the magic that makes large-scale transit networks run, and is a precursor to concepts like controller-based SDN.
George Swallow: MPLS/TE
Traffic engineering is an interesting case study in using packet based mechanisms to solve problems traditionally solved with circuit switched network technologies. George Swallow is one of the original designers of MPLS/TE.
Luca Martini: Psuedowires
In the first few decades of networking, circuit switched solutions reigned supreme. When packet switched networks were fully adopted, network engineers discovered there were some problems that were still best solved with circuit switched technologies--hence the invention of emulated point-to-point circuits over packets switched networks.
NBASE-T: Peter Jones
Peter Jones joins the History of Networking to discuss the origins, drivers, and challenges surrounding NBASE-T. While this is a new technology, the work involved in developing the technology and products to make it real reach several years back into the past.
Openconfig: Anees Shaikh and Rob Shakir
OpenConfig is an effort amongst many cooperative network operators to define vender-neutral data models for configuring and managing networks programatically.
SNMP: Craig Partridge
The Simple Network Management Protocol, or SNMP, was originally specified in RFC1067, and most recently in RFC1157. The original intent was to make "all IP and TCP implementations be network manageable"—an early form of providing a machine-readable interface so operators could "automate all the things." Craig Partridge played a key role in the early development and standardization of SNMP; he joins us on the History of Networking to discuss the origins and challenges involved in developing SNMP.
YANG: Phil Shafer
YANG is a data modeling language used to model configuration data, state data, Remote Procedure Calls, and notifications for network management protocols,<a href="https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/rfc7950/"> described in RFC7950.</a> The origins of YANG are rooted in work Phil Shafer did in building an interface system for JUNOS. Phil joins us on this episode of the History of Networking to discuss the history of YANG.
Internet Surveillance: Fred Baker
Attempts to create a suite of protocols that made nation-state surveillance existed right from the very beginning of the Internet.
Policy Based Management: Joel Halpern
This recording explores many of the concepts that lie behind intent based networking.
Fred Backer: Quality of Service and the DS Bit
Quality of service was not a part of the original design of IP, so figuring out how to include QoS in the IP format, and what including QoS would mean, were major steps in the creation of the Internet. Fred Baker played a crucial role in the early QoS work.
QUIC: Jana Iyengar
QUIC is a new transport protocol designed with many of the same features as TCP, but running over UDP.
Kilnom Chon: An Asian Perspective
Dr. Chon is a professor in South Korea who first encountered IP networking while working in the United States. He carried these technologies back to South Korea, starting the first experiments with this new form of networking, developing native versions of the IP and routing stacks on PDP11's.
Christian O’Flaherty: A Latin American Perspective
The growth of the Internet in Latin America is different than in North America, not least because of the many geographic and political realities in the region. Christian O’Flaherty traces these factors, and how they shaped the Internet in Latin America.
Nick McKeown: P4
Nick McKeown developed the open source P4 language for describing how a switching engine processes packets, allowing engineers to specify and implement customized forwarding to support policy and new protocols in the field.
Bill Yeager: Early PDP11 and Commercialization
Bill Yeager developed the routing code for the PDP11 which ultimately formed the basis for Cisco IOS.
J.R. Rivers: Linux Routing
The open source Linux operating system plays a large role in building routing and host devices; JR Rivers joins the history of networking to discuss the history of routing in Linux.
Sue Hares: GateD Open Source Routing Stack
Sue Hares, cochair of the IDR and I2RS working groups in the IETF, joins Donald Sharp and Russ White to talk about the origins of one of the first open source routing stacks, GateD. Sue was involved in MERIT and the university programs that originated this open source software, and managed its transition to a commercial offering.
Segment Routing: Jeff Tantsura
Segment routing, according to many routing geeks, is what MPLS should have been in the first place. In this recording, Jeff Tantsura discusses the original use cases and design logic behind SR.
Software Defined Networks: Martin Casado
Software Defined Networks, or SDNs, were originally designed to solve a specific set of research and deployment problems. While SDN hasn't ever really "taken off" the way many predicted, the concepts and ideas have played a major role in the development of hyperscale and data center fabric control planes.
Spanning Tree: Radia Perlman
The spanning tree protocol used to connect Ethernet segments together was actually created after routing, over the span of a single week. Radia Perlman, who invented spanning tree, joins the history of networking.
IPv6: Bob Hinden
Bob Hinden is the co-inventor of IPv6.
TCP/IP: Doug Comer
The Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP, is one of the foundational technologies of packet switched networks. TCP not only provides windowed flow control, it also manages the retransmission of data when errors are detected, and sockets for addressing individual applications on a host. Doug Comer was involved in the early development of TCP/IP.
Dave Farber: The Grandfather of the Internet
Dave Farber advised many of the people who invented technologies fundamental to the creation of the Internet; hence he is called <em>The Grandfather of the Internet.</em>
Vint Cerf: The Father of the Internet
Vint Cerf is considered by many to be the father of the modern Internet.
Larry Landweber: CSNET
Larry Landweber is John P. Morgridge Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He founded the CSNET project in 2979, one of the earliest networks eventually contributing to the creation of the Internet as it exists today. The CSNET eventually became National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET). Larry is credited with making the decision to use TCP/IP on CSNET.
Steve Crocker: The RFC Series
Many of the standards that make the Internet "go" are described in Requests for Comments, or RFCs. Steve Crocker joins the history of networking to describe how and why these documents came to be.