Location of ARPANET Protocol Handbook or its successor, online

Will Senn will.senn at gmail.com
Fri Jul 3 10:35:48 CDT 2020

On 7/3/20 9:21 AM, Noel Chiappa via cctalk wrote:
> It contains a whole raft of individual documents, most of them RFCs, and some
> "NIC"s - similar documents available through the NIC, but generally only in
> hardcopy form (like the earliest RFCs).
> Many of the most important non-RFC ones are available here:
>    http://www.chiappa.net/~jnc/tech/arpanet.html
> at the bottom of the page.
Your writeup and the links are quite helpful - like most stuff like 
this, I lack the historical context and appreciate it when folks fill in 
the gaps like this.

> I will create a page which lists the contents of the APH, since I
> gather it doesn't seem to be online. I'll email the list with the URL
> once I get it up.
Great idea. If I'd come across a TOC, I would have had a better idea of 
how far to pursue the primary material. In this case, it was worth the 
effort, regardless.

A bit of a ranting reflection:

I love the way these early works were written. To my mind, sometime 
around the mid 1980's folks started baking in so many more assumptions 
than the early writers that their work needlessly confuses newbies. 
Thankfully, we seem to be cycling back around to better documentation in 
some sectors of the tech world (FreeBSD manpages are one example). It's 
like back in the day, everybody was new enough to the ideas that they 
had to be carefully explained, terms had to be defined (agreed upon), 
clear, and detailed examples had to be provided for pretty much any task 
that was needed. Then once folks had a community going, they jargonified 
it mercilessly, started the whole RTFM clique and littered the 
literature with their private language. This continued for a number of 
decades. In the early 1990's The baby BSD's, Linux, and Minix were born 
and while at first it was all geeks, eventually, lots of people with all 
kinds of backgrounds started delving into them. Here we are in 2020 and 
the number of folks playing around with network related material (and 
the OSes that make this playground pleasurable) is at an all time high. 
This generation wouldn't know a bit from a bridle and so they need the 
clear explanations, agreed upon language, and detailed examples once 
again. Unfortunately, the accretion of relevant material over the 
decades makes even fairly well written works gargantuan and by their 
very size, difficult to grasp easily. So, for this reason primarily I 
like the classics :). The good news is I'm starting to see a return to 
the heart of the style in some corners. Let's hope it continues.

While the struggles of figuring things out the hard way has some degree 
of merit, a well written document that is relevant to the task at hand 
is like having a mentor at hand. I'll never forget installing Unix v6 on 
a SIMH emulated PDP 11, way back in 2015, with only my printed copy of 
"SETTING UP UNIX − Sixth Edition" by Dennis Ritchie at hand. After I 
learned what a disk pack was (unbelievable) and how it related to the 
devices provided by SIMH (thanks Noel and other SIMH/TUHS folks), I was 
able to follow his instructions exactly and boot up a then forty-some 
year old OS. In the process, I gained a great deal of respect for his 
ability to virtually apprentice someone in the black art of research 
unix even decades later.

Back in the present:

Many thanks Noel and those of y'all who are similarly minded, for your 
efforts to sustain correct history and its attendant explicit and tacit 
knowledge. Keep up the good work!



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