On Oct 29, 2019, at 3:40 PM, Fred Cisin via cctalk
<cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:
The first "internet" packet was certainly a significant event.
Indeed. So "remote communication between heterogeneous computers" would
probably be a good description.
But, calling it "The first inter-computer
communication" is comparable to saying that Columbus was the first to think that the
world was round and discovered America, or that Ford invented the automobile, or that Bill
Gates invented software or at least operating systems, or that Steve Jobs invented
Certainly multiple computers were interconnected quite some time before, at least within a
room. Multi-mainframe computers such as CDC 6000 series, not to mention CPU to PPU in
those same machines. Large computers with smaller ones as communication front ends going
back at least to the mid 1960s (EL-X8 with PDP-8 front end, "Wammes" timesharing
system). And so on.
"First"s are usually expanded into things that they aren't, and almost
always fail to acknowledge those less "famous" who were already doing it.
OK, I claim to be the first to say "first" is a bogus way to describe any
historical event. It is how non-historians fail to comprehend historians.
I'm not sure it's "bogus" but you have to understand the qualifiers.
Columbus is a good example, because it's well known that other Europeans traveled to
America quite some time before he did. However, those earlier visits made no lasting
impression on history, while the one Columbus made did.
There are other examples. I'm playing with one right now, the invention of FM.
Usually attributed to Edwin Armstrong, who indeed was first in the way Columbus was. But
a different system for sending FM was invented in 1919 in Holland and used for 5 years for
a commercial broadcasting station. That particular system then disappeared and was never
used again. But it was first in the same sense that the Vikings were first to America.