Arpanet map, March 1977

This was once the entire expanse of the Internet. I was six then, and connected to a Vax (PDP11? PDP8?) at the University of Toronto by teletype terminal, but it seems that it wasn’t yet networked. Arpanet Logical Map 1977 (via Bruce Sterling) READ THE REST

Cool! Before Snow Crash and William Gibson’s cyberspace stories, there was the 1977 novel “The Adolescence of P1.” This map is the world it took place in. It was a great read.


My first connection of a similar nature was through DialCom - early 80’s. Cut my teeth on computers and what would be the interwebs courtesy of the Henson folks - when Doc’s Apple IIe computer wasn’t on set it was up in Stephen Finney’s offices and I’d hide up there, learning the basics (all puns intended) and digging through the production office files which held all the connection codes for everyone working on Fraggle. From then to now - what a trip.

Note that towards the lower right… our friends at NSA are already on-board…

And the surprise would have been… WHAT?


The vax didn’t ship until 1978, so it would have been a PDP.

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I remember enjoying that book as well, although I did wonder if the publisher got an editor to spice it up with some good old 70’s leisure suit and shag carpet ambiance. Thanks for bringing that book to mind.

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DialCom was great! Lots of productivity tools ( I particularly liked the Telex and FAX capabilities ), BBS’s, BASIC interpreter, fileshare via XMODEM. Not bad for the early '80s.

I managed to get myself kicked out of college (for hacking), and ended up getting a job writing code for several of the PDP-11 nodes (running modified RSX-11M, not UNIX) that show up on this map. These were the Arpanet “Elf” nodes that emulated a particular type of IBM remote job entry (RJE) station, that were used to submit batch jobs for execution to an attached CDC 6600, 7600, Cray 1, or Burroughs 5500 computers. Often, this meant the user would write their FORTRAN program up on a coding form, hand it off to a key punch operator, the deck of cards would then be loaded into a local computer (typically a PDP-10) that was connected to the Arpanet. The user would login to the Elf node via Arpanet through the local computer, which automatically ran the RJE emulator and submitted their “card deck” to the attached host. The user would login to the Elf node again sometime later to pick up their results in the form of virtual card decks and/or printouts. Sounds painful, but this was the only way various military research centers could share their “supercomputer” resources in more or less real time…

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I remember seeing that - I got online in late 1978, at Columbia University. Somewhere in my files is a slightly later map, printed on greenbar lineprinter paper, of the ARPANet circa '79 - about 200 hosts.

Back then, Mail, Telnet, and FTP were the killer apps, and the large mailing list (the first online social media) got started with SF-Lovers, albeit sub-rosa.

Back then, everyone online either worked for a government contractor, or was at a university which contracted to the government. The level of helpfulness and collegiality was far, far higher than today.


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Here I am on the ARPAnet in 1977. I’m in the lower left @isi, doing my chemistry homework, writing FORTRAN programs, running backups, and changing the paper in the lineprinter.

My guess is it was utzoo, run by Henry Spencer. It was a PDP-11 if I recall.

I still remember printing out the UUCP map (sort of proto-internet) on the universities wide printer so I could figure out the path to e-mail my friends.

Now that I think about it, I wonder who was creating those maps? It was getting harder and harder to map the complexity of the e-mail routes into two-dimensional map each month and they were getting longer and more dense each time I printed one.

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Wow. I was dialing NYU back then.

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You were most likely on a PDP-11. Vaxen are entirely different, and later, beasts. PDP-8s actually had “core” memory in the form of little iron donuts and were essentially immortal: running until they rusted. They’re still out there running pipeline valves and refinery pumps today! You could unplug them and, until the donuts demagnetised a couple of weeks later, when you plugged them back in your program would just continue to the next statement as if nothing had happened. So “telemetry” in those days consisted of yanking your PDP in the field out of its case, swapping in a spare, throwing (and I do mean “throw”) the original 40 lb PDP in the back of a pickup truck, driving it off to the lab and then plugging it back in there.

In 1977, as I recall, IPSAnet (out of Toronto) had many more “nodes” with a much higher geographical distribution however it was a “Star” network centred around a behemoth mainframe: its nodes were nowhere as brainy as a PDP and were essentially really smart routers.

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In 1979 I used 4 of the PDP-10s on IMP-6 at MIT. A couple of years later I still had the same password on them, and had a work account on BBNG (where the startup where I worked had timesharing) and used the same password. Someone figured that out and went from MIT to BBNG and other places, and the BBN ARPANET NOC called me on the phone at home and asked me to change my password. Yes, in those days, the people who ran the whole internet would call you on the phone at home and ask you to do stuff.

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VAX actually means “Virtual Address eXtension” and it was a successor to the PDP-11, with… virtual memory.

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This is weird. RAND never had a PDP-10. In 1977 it did have a PDP-11 as well as the IBM on the net. Apparently these maps aren’t as accurate as I thought they were.

we have grown so big and lost so much

at first i was like - ehr mer grd i so want to grab some people, print this out and talk about it over a morning coffee break - then i realized no one in this office would even know what this was, which would be normal were it not for the fact that i work storage networking support for a major technology vendor.

#where the hell are all my nerds at :’(

also - damn, just noticed that one lonely ICL node in London

“god save our noble mainframe knockoff vendor
long live our gracious mainframe knockoff vendor
God save ICL”


and a univac as well… my Dad used to use one of those. This is the best non cat-related internet this week :smiley:

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