Re: Ancient history [Re: ipv4 and ipv6 Coexistence.]

John C Klensin <> Sat, 29 February 2020 17:55 UTC

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Date: Sat, 29 Feb 2020 12:55:38 -0500
From: John C Klensin <>
To: "Joel M. Halpern" <>
Subject: Re: Ancient history [Re: ipv4 and ipv6 Coexistence.]
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It seems to me that this kind of assertion and discussion
rapidly turns from hair-splitting ("control" -> "soft control"
and "hard control") into advanced hair-splitting.  I question
how much difference this make several decades later, expect to
those who will be trying to sort out the history then.  And I
don't envy them their jobs: In the 1969-1971 period, there were
several people around who were convinced that the ARPANET (and
several other ARPA projects including the one that was funding
my work) were ultimately created for and run by the CIA with the
intention of subverting peasant movements.  To say that, with
the possible exception of the most paranoid, none of us who were
closer to the situation saw any signs of that, but those who
were that paranoid just claimed we were deluded.  It is going to
be hard for historians to sort this out especially those who
come into the work with strong hypotheses: I was interviewed
within the last year by someone who wanted to know what peasant
movements (other than Vietnamese peasants) we had tried to
subvert and who, reassured me that, after 50 years, it would be
ok to tell him.  He found "none" fairly unsatisfying.

Two things to add to Mike's more authoritative but slightly
later perspective:

(1) I was participating in a few standards efforts in the 1970s
(and later) which were definitely civilian and public but in
which DoD had an interest and therefore was a member of, and
sent people, to the relevant expert-level meetings.  Sometimes
the people they sent were civilian DoD employees, sometimes
military, occasionally (but, in my experience, rarely) they were
contractors: as far as any of us could tell from the outside,
the choices were made on the basis of what would be serve DoD's
needs, not a broad policy.  When people who were active-duty
military came to those meetings, some came in uniform and others
didn't.  When asked about the difference, we were told that it
was up to the individual commanding officer and preferences

Conclusion: That there were people in uniform seen around a
research project doesn't prove much of anything, unless maybe,
they were in line management roles.

(2)  When ARPA was created, its mission, as the name implied,
was "Advanced" research.  Sometime in the mid-60s, I was told
again later by people who had been members of the Defense
Science Board, that "Advanced" was chosen partially to avoid
debates about the boundary between "Pure" and "Applied"
research.  Licklider was very clear, and indicated that at least
the early generations of ARPA senior management were clear, that
"advanced" implied work that might not succeed (he even
suggested on occasion that, if more than two or three projects
out of five were successful in terms of what their advocates
expected, ARPA wasn't pushing the "advanced research" concept
hard enough.   And a large number of ARPA grants/contracts were
made on the basis of rather short letter proposals with the
(quite explicit) assumption that giving money to bright people
with interesting ideas had better odds of producing useful (and
"advanced") results than situations in which exactly where thing
would lead could be spelled out in detail in advance.  Yes,
there was an expectation that funded work, if successful, might
ultimately prove useful to the military in some way, but that
was much different than research with clear (or exclusive)
military applications.

Then the Vietnam war came along and parts of the US Congress got
very nervous about the boundary between military and civilian
work.  That resulted in something call the Mansfield Amendment
which, summarized at a very high level, forbad DoD from engaging
in any work that was not directly linked to military needs or
applications.  One consequence was the first change in ARPA's to
DARPA.  The other was what looked, at least to some of us on the
outside and trying to get work done, like a scramble to identify
the potential military relevancy of planned and existing
research activities.   If there were any substantive changes to
research methods or objectives at that time, I didn't see them,
although I did see what looked like some shifts in funding for
new projects and some encouragement to write appropriate words
into renewal proposals for existing ones.

Conclusion: Trying to figure out how much military involvement
there was and how "hard" or "soft" the oversight is going to be
hard and not particularly productive.  There may be answers to
_very_ specific questions but, in general, most of those doing
the work were not paying much attention to the broader questions
at the time and that is probably more important to any issues
about degree of military influence than any of the examples that
can be passed back and forth.


--On Thursday, February 27, 2020 08:43 -0500 "Joel M. Halpern"
<> wrote:

> While technically commercial use of the Internet for
> non-governmental purposes was not supported in the 1980s, in
> practice it occurred.  From the mid-80s, I worked for a
> company that got Internet access through MRNet, used that for
> commercial interaction with the government, and also used it
> for other commercial and non-commercial purposes.
> I think for the purposes of Stewart's original comment, the
> difference someone drew between soft and hard control is
> important.  The government9s) clearly had soft control over
> the Internet for much of that time.  (It would be pretty
> foolish for me to argue with Mike over that.)  At the same
> time, the ISO OSI example was a case where the government (and
> then other groups) tried to exercise harder control. And it
> failed.  Which aligns well with how hard it has been to get
> folks to adopt IPv6, and yet we are making progress.