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L’importanza del testimone

VANITY FAIR COMPILA la storia orale di Internet attraverso interviste ai principali protagonisti. E il primo, Paul Baran, inizia subito sparando la michiata: Internet è nata per resistere a un attacco termonucleare. Evvai…

Money Quote: It was necessary to have a strategic system that could withstand a first attack and then be able to return the favor in kind. The problem was that we didn’t have a survivable communications system, and so Soviet missiles aimed at U.S. missiles would take out the entire telephone-communication system. At that time the Strategic Air Command had just two forms of communication. One was the U.S. telephone system, or an overlay of that, and the other was high-frequency or shortwave radio.


[Paul Baran] opportunity emerged a few years later, when Larry Roberts, one of the ARPA officials in charge of investigating computer networks in the late 1960s, discovered Baran's RAND papers. However, note Hafner and Lyon, "Nuclear war scenarios, and command and control issues, weren't high on Roberts' agenda" [77]. Roberts was intrigued by Baran's theoretical ideas of a distributed network from a purely research point of view. Roberts was also interested in a network that would tie together several of ARPA's chief research sites, universities and other institutions conducting experiments funded by the agency. It was Roberts who laid the first foundations of the Internet, relying on contributions from many different sources, including Baran, who became a consultant to the project.

Thus, while Baran's work was motivated by the goal of building a communications network that could survive a nuclear war, this motivation was only a small part of the flow of ideas that built the technical foundations of the Internet.