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Anonymous on Sat Apr 21 00:08:47 2001


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Stargate History

The online community of the early 1980s was made up of several separate
topological networks. The ARPANET had military grants and elite
connectivity, providing e-mail and mailing lists at high speeds and quality.
BITNET provided connectivity for IBM systems. CSNET connected Computer
Science departments that did not have ARPANET access. The UUCP net connected
organizations that could not get on the ARPANET. FIDONET connected hobby
bulletin board systems. The ARPANET had user {AT} host e-mail syntax, which had
become user {AT} host.ARPA for the ARPANET. Other networks used local routing
technologies. The UUCP net routed mail with bang paths: host!next!host!user.
On January 28, 1986, the day the Challenger blew up, a meeting of
representatives from the ARPANET, BITNET, CSNET, and UUCP net agreed to
permit all four networks to register domains in the COM, EDU, GOV, MIL, NET,
and ORG domains. This was the organizational foundation of the current
Internet domain naming system.

The UUCP Project

Prior to 1984, several people announced that they were going to build a UUCP
map, and that everyone should send their connectivity data in. They were
each buried under a huge pile of data and never heard from again.
In January 1984, a birds-of-a-feather session at the USENIX conference in
Washington DC enlisted over 30 volunteers to build and maintain a UUCP map.
A system was put into place to distribute this map on Usenet in the
newsgroup comp.mail.maps. This group adopted the name "The UUCP Project" and
received initial funding from USENIX. The project continued on a volunteer
basis after the funding ran out. The UUCP Project was run by Mark Horton
with major contributions by Mel Pleasant, Tim Thompson, Berry Kercheval,
Steve Morenberg, and Karen Summers-Horton, and a cast of hundreds of
regional volunteer coordinators. Domains were registered for $150,
generating an outcry that has not been repeated since the INTERNIC began
charging for domains.
The UUCP Project continues today under the capable direction of Eric Ziegast
at www.uucp.org. 

The Stargate Project

One of the most expensive parts of Usenet was the telephone bills to send
Netnews around the world. A few companies, notably AT&T, DEC, and Philips,
accumulated huge telephone bills, largely because their system
administrators set up the links first and asked forgiveness later.
In 1985, Lauren Weinstein conceived of an idea to broadcast Netnews via
satellite. He worked a deal with Tempo Television, the company that uplinked
WTBS-TV to satellite and national cable TV distribution, to include Netnews
in the vertical interval of WTBS, so that anyone with the proper decoding
box could collect the Netnews and feed it into their system. A 4800 baud
link was set up, feeding all moderated newsgroups (mod.*) through the
satellite. 

A Joint Venture

For economy of scale, the UUCP Project and the Stargate Project joined
forces to form Stargate Information Systems. Both projects succeeded in
their goals. Stargate registered the second UUCP Internet domain in 1986 as
stargate.com. (The first was att.com, Mark Horton's employer.) Stargate
Information Systems continued to provide community service until 1988.
Neither activity was intended to generate a profit.
The Stargate project terminated for business reasons when WTBS changed their
uplink carrier to a company with ideas for a competing technology. The UUCP
project continued until 1988 when Rick Adams of UUNET offered to take on its
domain registration work at a lower cost. Eventually, the cost of Internet
technology became low enough that UUCP was replaced with TCP/IP, SMTP, and
NNTP, and everyone had access to ARPANET-class Internet service.

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