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Where Wizards Stay up Late: The Origins of the Internet [Paperback]

Katie Hafner , Matthew Lyon
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Jan 2003
Twenty five years ago, it didn't exist. Today, over twenty million people worldwide are surfing the Net. WHERE WIZARDS STAY UP LATE is the exciting story of the pioneers responsible for creating the most talked about, most influential, and most far-reaching communications breakthrough since the invention of the telephone. In the 1960's, when computers were regarded as mere giant calculators, J.C.R Licklider at MIT saw them as the ultimate communications devices. With Defense Department funds, he and a band of visionary computer whizzes began work on a nationwide, interlocking network of computers. Taking readers behind the scenes, WHERE WIZARDS STAY UP LATE captures the hard work, genius, and happy accidents of their daring, stunningly successful venture.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The Free Press; New edition edition (6 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743468376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743468374
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 13 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,087,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Considering that the history of the Internet is perhaps better documented internally than any other technological construct, it is remarkable how shadowy its origins have been to most people, including die-hard Net-denizens!

At last, Hafner and Lyon have written a well-researched story of the origins of the Internet substantiated by extensive interviews with its creators who delve into many interesting details such as the controversy surrounding the adoption of our now beloved "@" sign as the separator of usernames and machine addresses. Essential reading for anyone interested in the past--and the future--of the Net specifically, and telecommunications generally.

With the incredible growth of the Internet in the 1990s and revolutions occurring almost daily, it is easy to overlook the origins of this cultural phenomenon. Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon have captured the history of the Internet in this solid account. They explain the system's genesis as a device to link computer resources around the country--not to prepare communications for nuclear war strikes as is often thought--and how, as with many of us, e-mail was the application of choice for many users. It also tells of the story of the buttoned-up engineers who invented the Internet- -in contrast to the late-night hackers who pushed its evolution. In all, an interesting history about a medium that has fostered an aversion to the past. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Richard Bernstein "The New York Times Book Review" If you always wanted to know who put the 'at' sign in your E-mail address, then "Where Wizards Stay Up Late" is the book for you. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Internet is older than you thought 22 Jan 2001
This is an excellent book for all those who would guess that Bolt, Beranek and Newman is a law firm. It may sound like one, but it isn't. BBN - now a subsidiary of GTE/Verizon - is a company which is most intimately tied to the birth of what is nowadays known as the internet. And if the BBN's marketing guys would have been half as good as their engineers, we would probably hear a lot more about BBN today and less about, say, Cisco.
In a clear and highly readable style, Hafner and Lyon have covered the history of the packet switching networks with encyclopedic breadth. You'll learn both about the early theoretical fathers of packet switching, like Paul Baran and Donald Davies; you have the people in the DoD's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) like Joseph Licklider, Bob Taylor or Larry Roberts, who not only had a grand view of computer networking or obtained the necessary governmental funding, but were also able to specify their wishes precisely enough that the engineers were able to build the network based on their plans. And finally, there is Frank Heart's team at BBN, guys who actually built the darn thing.
The subtitle - The origins of the internet - is well chosen. Most of the book focuses on the years 1968-1972, from Roberts' draft proposal, to the 1972 international conference on computer communication. Other development, either earlier or later, is covered only fragmentary. There are other interesting stories, like the origins of USENET, internet news exchange service, but they are not the scope of this book.
The book leaves a pleasant impression that the authors actually understand the necessary technical background of the topic they are writing about.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This book is a must for anyone teaching in the subject, or for Internet enthusiasts.
The book is factual in that important dates places and people are well documented.
Progression towards the present day Internet as we know it is presented in structured chunks of easy to read text, with the characters coming to life at all times. Reading this book makes one realise how much hard work went on before a solution to communication between computers was finalised.
The problem is that once you start reading it you want to carry on to the end!
Once you've reached the end you want to start again.
An important book for students who are serious about their studies. As a lecturer in computing and IT I find it invaluable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly interesting book to read. 31 Jan 2003
If you really want to know how the Internet was designed and built. Then this IS the book to read. Since you are sitting there reading this webpage, think of those guys. They helped put the technology there in the first place. Everything ranged from computers, packet switching, emails, ftp etc is all here. Looking at the photos of the team that helps design APRAnet (known as the internet nowadays), the building of the data traffic machines etc shows you how much obstacles they have overcome in order to get their project working. Recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent historical review of the Internet 22 Dec 1998
By A Customer
I was very impressed by this book. I, along with myriad others, work in the Internet field and I, along with myriad others, had only a hazy understanding of where the Internet sprang from. This book changed all that. It goes into great depth but remains a gripping read throughout. It covers the conception, birth, infancy and early childhood of computer networking and the Internet. My only reservation about this book is that it seemed to fizzle out at the end, but I guess, given the nature of the subject, there's no way of ending the story. I can thoroughly recommend this book - it won't change the way you work with the Internet but it will give you an appreciation of the work (and fun) involved in getting it started.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and very indepth 6 May 2000
By A Customer
However at times it may be a bit too indepth. The Authors have done an amazing amount of research but they also seem to be unable to cut out bits that are of no use to the overall picture.
That said, they do tell you a LOT about the history of the internet in very easy to read terms. As others have mentioned there are some ommisions - and it is a bit to US-centred (the inventor of packet switching only gets brief mention for example) - but it is still a very worthwhile read for anyone wanting to learn more about the roots of the internet.
The last gripe I have is the writing style is a bit disjointed. For a while the book reads in a chronological pattern, then it keeps jumping back and forward. A few comments are made at the end of a chapeter then repeated in full on the start of the next chapter (next page) - I think they may have been trying to write a website not a paper book....
Overall, a very, very good read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I have read this book from cover to cover serveral times as it is a set book for the Open University course 'You, your computer and the net'. It descrides the historical foundations and development of the Internet and World Wide Web in a non-technical and facinating way. This book will give you an insite into the technologies and personalities involved in this medium and will interest computer users at all levels.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for net-nerds!
This book is a must-read for anyone whose interest in the Internet extends beyond just using it, and into how and why it came about. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Denny
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 1 month ago by M. Coakley
5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice story of the ARPANET
History-geeks must-read. I love the fact that the author has had many interviews with the people who actually were there in the beginning.
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I have the original paperback and absolutely love this book. Being a computer geek myself I find it very interesting and entertaining read. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Chris Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing!
What a great book about the history of the internet! Get this book if (like me) you remember the old days of Arpa Net and 'no proper networks!'
Published 16 months ago by Mr. M. Halliday
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating subject matter, dull delivery
The subject matter, the origins of the Internet, is fascinating and the book does an acceptable job of covering it.

However, the delivery feels dull. Read more
Published on 9 Jun 2012 by mal
5.0 out of 5 stars You need the other book too !
This should be read as the second of two books. Start by reading Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace. Read more
Published on 24 Jan 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Background to the Internet
I always did wonder how it all started.
This answered my questions.
Doesn't really mention Cisco though! Read more
Published on 6 July 2002 by Jonathan
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Account of the Internet's Birth!
If you've ever wanted to know how the Internet came about then this has to be the book for you!
I've read many books on the Birth of the Internet and I don't think any have... Read more
Published on 3 Oct 2000 by
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