Friday, February 08, 2013

Where the streets have node names

Have you ever googled your email address? If you do, you'll find all kinds of things you've posted on the internets. And for once I'm not using that word sarcastically!

Back in the days before the World Wide Web, there was still The Internet, and before The Internet there was ARPANET, which I guess was an internet. And before there were TCP/IP and internets, there was DECnet. And for a time, there was both. In the early 80s, there was ARPANET and there was Digital Equipment Corporation's world-wide corporate network (which at one time was called EasyNet for some reason, there must have been a contest), and there was a gateway between them.

And before the World Wide Web, there was Usenet, a collection of newsgroups, like discussion forums, where you could post your cat videos (no, I don't think so) and recipes and jokes. It was like a bulletin board system on steroids, or more like thousands of BBS's, really.

I worked at DEC back then, starting in 1981 - yes, I actually was 16 when I started. And a funny thing happened when I googled my old email address on DEC's network. My mail node - as in node name, hence the little song I'd sing once U2 gave it a tune and some words - was a VAX system in our computer laaaaab and it was called GLIVET, which was short for Glenlivet, and had been named by a Scotch drinker. And so my email address was GLIVET::DIAMOND. And when you google that, you don't find much, but it does turn up a few Usenet postings that I managed to get through the gateway.

So here now is a link to one of those old posts to the jokes group from 1984 (wow, 29 years ago?). If you're a math nerd, and I hope you are, I'm sure you'll understand.

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