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Kleinrock focused on the issue of hardware. He knew that UCLA would
soon be receiving an Interface Message Processor (IMP), which was
critical to making the ARPANET functional. The IMP would handle
the "packet-switching" of data, allowing UCLA to link with other
sites. But the IMP was not a stand-alone device. It was simply a
high-speed interface that required a host computer to back it up
on an array of tasks.
therein lay Kleinrock and Company's biggest problem. The UCLA computer
science department owned a computer made by Scientific Data Systems
called the Sigma-7. It was unreliable and difficult to program and
no one much liked it. In fact, everyone agreed: The Sigma-7 was
a dog. But, Kleinrock says, "It was our dog." The Sigma-7 would
have to play host to the IMP. It was Kleinrock's hope that with
a little bit of luck, the network would open doors to more wieldy
the summer of 1968, news of the ARPANET project rippled through
academia. Kleinrock contacted fellow principal investigators at
ARPA-supported research universities to discuss critical details
of the first phase of the experimental network and to lobby them
on the importance of taking part in the project. "I met with reluctance,"
he admits. "No one was eager to share their computer resources with
others on the Net. I did some serious arm-twisting." About the same
time, a small group of graduate students met in Santa Barbara. The
meeting was attended by representatives from UCLA, Stanford Research
Institute and UC Santa Barbara.
meeting was seminal, if only because of the enthusiasm it generated.
"We had lots of questions -- how IMPs and hosts would be connected,
what hosts would ‘say' to each other and what applications would
be supported," Crocker recalls. "No one had any answers, but the
prospects seemed exciting. We found ourselves imagining all kinds
of possibilities -- interactive graphics, cooperating processes,
automatic database query, electronic mail -- but no one knew where
to begin." Still, from this summit emerged a corps of young researchers
devoted to figuring out how each node on the network would "talk"
to the other.