Imagine a 300-page history of the United States that spent the first 290 pages on events up to and including the Civil War, then zoomed through everything else in the last 10 pages. According to Doug Gale, who I met this week at EDUCAUSE, that’s more or less how the history of the Internet has been written. He runs a consultancy called Information Technology Associates which is located in Big Sky, Montana because it can be. Earlier in his career he was an NFSNET administrator who was instrumental in taking us from a research network with a few hundred nodes in 1980 to the 7-million-node recognizably modern Internet we had by 1995. Although much has been written about the early ARPANET, there’s surprisingly little documentation of the 15-year period from the development of CSNET in 1980 to the decommissioning of the NFSNET in 1995.
So Doug Gale is now interviewing seventy-odd of the key players in that 15-year transformation, in order to build an archive of source materials that can be used to write the history of that formative era. The oral archive is currently a work in progress, and none of the interviews captured so far have been published, but he intends to do that and is looking for help.
I’d love to read that history once it’s written. Meanwhile, here’s the project’s home page.