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on 22 January 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. Some diagrams might help further, but I am sure that numerous metaphors used in the book will also alone help the casual reader to understand the idea of packet switching. Chapter notes and bibliography section deserve special praise, and the subject index comes in handy, too. Overall, a very satisfying book.
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on 21 January 2002
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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on 8 November 2015
On time. Good quality.
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on 31 January 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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on 22 December 1998
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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on 6 May 2000
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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on 13 December 2000
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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on 3 October 2000
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 matched "Where Wizards Stay Up Late". When I received this book in the post it was opened immediately and I couldn't put it down.
This book really does look into the origins of the Internet and allows the reader to appreciate the Global Information System we have today called the "Internet".... that's with a Capital 'I' (Read the Book).
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on 24 January 2011
This should be read as the second of two books. Start by reading Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace. The first deals with a gang of hackers/script kiddies and their mischief. When the FBI finally catches up with them, they have to stop to go to another case .. that 'other' case is this book. It puts this book in some context .. how one boy single handedly works it all out.

For those looking for a book on "how to" this is not the book. If you want to understand the psychology of the hacker .. this is a good book. Enjoy !

Please also read Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution to ensure you understand we are all hackers to an extent and that the media get the labels wrong !
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on 9 June 2012
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. The portraits of the key characters, and their surroundings feel like diversions, more often than not failing to bring the human dimension to the story. The book is nowhere near as engaging as Tracy Kidder's "The soul of new machine" or David Kushner's "Masters of Doom".

Technical content, and overall level of detail, feel OK at the start whilst covering BBN's involvement but generally fade away as the story progresses.

Not a bad book, but not memorable.
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