Tag Archives: donald davies

Daddy, where did the Internet come from?

I’m a big fan of podcasts. As a podcaster myself, you might expect me to say that. I know many people are not fans, and that’s OK – it’s a matter of taste, I think. For me, it’s convenient to be able to get information while I’m driving, or travelling via some other means or doing something else which makes reading difficult. I like some of the insight that comes out through deeper discussion of a topic, or even from the interaction of several people in a conversation, which you typically don’t get from a written post which is likely to be from one point of view. Audio can take more concentration than reading text, of course, and is difficult to scan, so I can understand objections – like I said, it’s a matter of taste. For me, podcasts need to be interesting, and ideally they need to be short (45 mins max) and easy to consume[1].

One particular podcast series which I came across recently (via epredator) is an excellent series of short pieces from the Open University – it’s called The Internet at 40 (iTunes link). It looks at the origins of the Internet and then covers a series of interviews with some of the pioneers like Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee as well as less well-known people like Donald Davies and Ray Tomlinson. It’s mostly delivered in nice bite-sized 5-15 minute chunks, with only the first piece lasting longer than 20 minutes, and even then, that’s a compelling listen.

Ever wanted to know how this thing called the Internet evolved? I found it fascinating to listen to Donald Davies talking about the genesis of TCP/IP – I’d always understood it at a general level, but hearing these guys discuss the original thinking behind some of the fundamental concepts was really cool. As both an historian and a techie, it was great to listen and see my two worlds collide. Recommended.

[1] the one exception I make to the 45-minute rule are the shows from TWiTMacBreak Weekly and net@night are regular subscriptions, and the latter in particular is great for making new online discoveries. If you have the stamina for something a little longer, the TWiT network has some great shows.