9.2.05

THE EVOLUTION OF THE INTERNET PROTOCOLS? Blogger allows its users to visit randomly selected weblogs, and I peruse my referrals from those random visitors. Sometimes an interesting tidbit turns up. For example, 36-173 offers some history of computer hacking.
The first group of people to be titled hackers was a group of students at MIT who were involved in the Tech Model Railroad Club. The TMRC was separated by members interested in the model trains and those fascinated by the system underneath the model trains. It was this group of students that would become highly involved in computer programming in the coming years.
One wonders if the MIT railroad was wired in the common rather haphazard fashion or if track feeders and signals were arranged systematically. The convention oh the real railroad for structuring an interlocking has some principles that would generalize to the creation of a network. The levers or circuiting must be arranged in such a way that all lineups are made toward an approaching train: the switches farthest away, working back toward the train's track; next, any switch locks, finally signals, again, with the innermost home signal cleared first, then any intermediate home signals, and last the approach signal. (Thus, a train cannot be given indication of a clear road until the road, truly, is clear.) The signalling version of rebooting was as frustrating as it is for contemporary computer users: if the signal operator changes his mind, he must start a timer that locks all the levers for three or four minutes. The purpose is to prevent a switch from being thrown under a moving train.

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