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An Interview With The Router Man 94

Angry_Admin writes "For Network World's 20th anniversary, they've published an interview with William (Bill) Yeager, the creator of the multiprotocol router, with some history on how Cisco came to be. As he says in the interview : 'This project started for me in January of 1980, when essentially the boss said, "You're our networking guy. Go do something to connect the computer science department, medical center and department of electrical engineering."' 6 months later he had his first working 3MBit router shoved in a closet."
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An Interview With The Router Man

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30, 2006 @06:16PM (#15030145)
    ...the first ASCII pictures of boobs were sent from the computer science department to the engineering department...
    • Nonsense... ASCII boobs date back at least to the teletype era... I'm sure some enterprising young engineer found ways to make punchcard boobs before that.
      • Re:And soon after... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by yo_tuco (795102)
        "ASCII boobs date back at least to the teletype era... I'm sure some enterprising young engineer found ways to make punchcard boobs before that."

        It would be interesting to find the earliest use of ASCII images. The first general purpose teletype [] goes back to around 1922. And the punch card as early as 1725 []. And if someone was transmitting ASCII boobs via punch cards or teletype, wouldn't that be considered ASCII art? These early sex-starved geeks would indeed predate the common practice of ASCII art
        • Technically no.

          ASCII didn't become a standard untill 1967. And art created earlier than that would by "teletype art" or "punchcard art", not ASCII art.
          • by just_another_sean (919159) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @09:39PM (#15031357) Journal
            Ah /. how do I love thee!

            Where else would you see people nitpicking over etymology during a discussion about drawing boobies with a computer?

            • Yes, I'm appalled. We really should be discussing grammar, since it didn't state that the first ASCII boobies were sent over this network, but rather shortly after its opening it was used to transmit ASCII boobies. "First" in this context simply means "first of many". as in "Shortly after the slashdotter got broadband, the first porn DVD was downloaded." Actually, bad example since he probably did it with dial-up too. Anyway...
              • Then it should refer to "the first transmission of ASCII boobs", not "the first ASCII boobs" being transmitted on their network... Unless, of course, they went digging, found the very first ASCII boobs, and transmitted them...

                (Heh, boobies.) (.)(.)
            • And here she is.. my beautiful Angela..
              Among the first women you could fax to a friend.

              Angela ASCII []
  • Mr. Router (Score:3, Funny)

    by labalicious (844887) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @06:16PM (#15030149) Homepage
    Mr. Router, that's his name, his name again is Mr. Router.
    • More Simpsons:

      Bill: How could you do this to me Len? If there was any justice in the world, it would be my picture on a bunch of crappy investor guides!

      Sandy: Len, is what this man saying true?

      Len: Who can say, baby? Ideas were getting thrown around, he may have come up with the source code, but I'm the one who came up with the idea to charge $15k a pop for it!
  • Holy Shit (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30, 2006 @06:18PM (#15030160)
    This guy is a neighbor of mine. He always spouts off shit like an old crazy man about how he invented the Internet, and this and that. I always tell him that he is wrong, and that Al Gore invented the Internet.

    Now I feel like an ass.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30, 2006 @06:24PM (#15030205)
    I work in Pine Hall. I just looked in the aforementioned telephone closet, and, while there's still a chunk of thick-net on the wall, the router's gone.
    • Maybe the vampires [] got it?
    • by Surt (22457)
      It's behind the locked metal panel in the upper right of the corner of the wall right of the door.
    • things change (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GunFodder (208805) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:16PM (#15031496)
      I remember visiting my dad at the UCSC computer center. There was an observation window with a view into their brightly lit dinosaur pen. There were rows of computers and tape drives that looked more like appliances. People were scurrying around attending to the care and feeding of these machines.

      A few years ago I went back to this same computer center. The lights were off and no one was there. There were a variety of behemoth machines in the shadows around the room that looked like they hadn't been fired up in years. There was a row of relatively tiny Sun servers running down the middle of the room that appeared to be handling the workload that previously took a room full big iron. My dad showed me one Vax 11/780 in the corner that was still being used as a mail server. But there was already a plan to decommission this last vestige of a bygone era, thanks to its enormous appetite for power.
  • I'll say it again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by C. E. Sum (1065) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @06:28PM (#15030239) Homepage Journal
    The social aspects of computing can be just as interesting as the actual technology. We have the tale here of a smart guy who got a project dropped on him to do some in-house work. His work (almost directly, and at the expense of litigation) evolved into Cisco's IOS.

    The latter half of the article is even less about tech details than the first half, recounting his (mis?)adventures at Sun.

    As a side note, either I'm missing something or he's being misquoted. IP has always been 32bit addressed, right? I'm assuming it's 3mbit ethernet that was 16bit?
    • Re:I'll say it again (Score:4, Informative)

      by Intron (870560) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @06:47PM (#15030378)
      Look at RFC 675: 16 bits: Destination TCP address

      The protocol version number is probably different now. The hardware didn't care about the protocol on top. I worked on converting a system from 3MBit to the new 10MBit ethernet in 1980 but I never knew or cared about IP addresses.
      • Re:I'll say it again (Score:3, Informative)

        by C. E. Sum (1065) *
        Yeah... But he was specifically talking about IP (As opposed to TCP/Arpanet or whatever). The earliest IEN I can find a softcopy of (111, from 1979) refences IP as 32bits (and at "version 4").
    • Re:I'll say it again (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Stanford's 3MB Ethernet started out using Pup, which was 16-bits (8 bit net and 8 bit host address). The Pup address also function as what we know today as the MAC address.

      When TCP/IP was added, the 32-bit value was formed as 36.nnn.0.hhh where nnn was the Pup net address and hhh was the Pup host address.
    • Re:I'll say it again (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tomherbst (888500)
      I think they were mapping the existing PUP into the IP address. Since PUP is two 8 bit numbers
      it would map cleanly into the third and forth octets of a v4 IP address. When I was at
      Xerox I also mapped IP and the PUP space, but it was in '87 and we ARP'ed (and PROBEd - thank
      you hp). We did the mapping to leverage the existing addressing plan. Since he was just
      doing this for Stanford he may have hardcoded the other two octets.

      Xerox also had multiprotocol routers called Dicentras hand crafted at PARC. They
  • Routing the past (Score:2, Informative)

    by Idol_Handzz (784370)
    I get my Network World every week like clockwork, and they seem to accumulate somewhere around my desk in a little pile. This article caught my eye, and I read it from start to finish twice. It was really quite fascinating. I understand routing, and while it is fairly simple these days, I can't imagine trying to code the first one. There was nothing to base anything on. He didn't just write the code, he invented the theory, tested it, and proved it could work.

    By the way, the whole issue is one that ever
    • by rakkasan (444517)
      What the average slashdotter doesn't get is this guy is one of the original alpha geeks. He deserves loads more credit. He didn't suggest ideas to a committee, he built the tools, then built the device. That takes an intimate understanding of the subject way beyond what I have for sure. He is of the generation that sent man to the moon using mostly paper and pencil math. We build on the shoulders of common men with extraordinary insights into thier craft.

      Thing is - times change, I used to work with a r
  • didn't this guy have a flight sim back when my XT was in full force? or am i dreaming?
  • the real meat of TFA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bobbyshade (906085)
    the past is cool, but it is just that. past. what i found most interesting in TFA was what Mr. Yeager is up these days. like his new patent for a P2P net called "Peerouette-Network" and what it will be capable of. have a read . g-authority-dt20060112ptan20060010251.php []
  • *AND* he was the first man to break the speed of sound? Oh, wait, wrong Yeager []
  • Quoting Yeager

    I always ran into walls at Sun, company politics, and that never worked out too well. When I was at Stanford there was a rule: The best engineering wins. Simple, straightforward. If your engineering is better than the other guy's, yours got the blue ribbon. Well at Sun, and at companies in general, it's different. It's the politically correct software that gets productized.

    Which is recipe for disaster as technology wins 9 times out of 10. Audio compression + internet + PC are reshaping the mu
  • Surely I'm not the only one who saw that headline and immediately had my internal radio station playing "Rocket Man", only as "Router Maaaaan..."
  • J. Noel Chiappa wrote multiprotocol router software while at MIT and licensed it to Proteon, a token ring networking company. Proteon sold the p4200 multibus multiprotocol router with token ring fiber optic backbones quite a while before cisco built their first AGS router. Some might say that Chiappa stole the MIT code, like cisco stole the Stanford code. But there is no doubt that a Proteon p4200 could be bought before cisco had any product for sale. Left coast techno bias, I suppose.

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