LACNIC 10 YEARS: An Interview with Steve Crocker

23/11/2012

“It was clear to me that all the computers would need to be interconnected”

Steve Crocker, chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), spoke to the Lacnic Newsletter during his visit to Montevideo

By Pablo Izmirlian.

He has been inducted to the Internet Hall of Fame, among other things, for laying the groundwork for the Internet as we know it today. Steve Crocker also baptized the famous “RFCs” (Requests for Comments) when he began working as part of the technical team that developed the Arpanet protocols in the late 1960s.

Steve Crocker serves as chairman of ICANN since June 24, 2011. During his visit to Montevideo as one of the keynote speakers at the LACNIC 10 Years meeting, he presented the conference “LACNIC: Building Innovation through Technical and Institutional Stability.” After the conference, he spoke to the Lacnic Newsletter about his vision for the Internet back then.

During your presentation you were talking about the early days of the Internet and how you were involved with the Arpanet project. Did you have, back then, a slight grasp of what that was going to become, or were you just doing what you had to do?

I’ll give you a couple of answers to that. This is not the first time that this question is pronounced… “did you understand?”, “how much did you see?”… I usually answer: everything is proceeding exactly on schedule [laughs]. I’ll give you a more serious answer: I think everybody who was working understood that this was going to be important, that this was going to make a big difference. How much each of us understood probably varied, so I’ll just tell you myself. In those days computers were relatively big. It was some years later that we got a report of a computer that had been stolen and a big cheer went up across the community because that meant that they were small enough to get stolen. But prior to that it would be like stealing a house, you don’t steal houses, usually anyway. A small computer would dominate a room like this. So it was clear to me that basically all the computers would need to be interconnected, and in those days universities and business had not focused on the fact that, as they got smaller, they would become personal computers and that we would be carrying them around or we’d have them at home. Although there were people working on that, it just hadn’t sunk in. And for those of us who were working on the network and living with it… it changed our life right away, because we could send e-mail to somebody, we could move a file and so forth. It just was like night and day, you just could feel the difference. So we knew that was going to happen. What I didn’t see was Google, I didn’t see Facebook, I didn’t see a number of things… but what we did see frankly was the World Wide Web, because the origins of that were already available in 1968.

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