The Standards Blog

The Daemon, the Gnu and the Penguin

Open Source/Open Standards

If you visit Groklaw, you know about The Daemon, the Gnu and the Penguin, a new book by Peter Salus being serialized there, with a new chapter appearing each Thursday. Of course, if you don't visit Groklaw, you probably wouldn't want to admit it, since Groklaw has long been one of the "be there or be square" hangouts on the Web for those of the open source persuasion and their fellow travelers.

Salus is the author of quite a lot of other books in the same thematic neighborhood, such as A Quarter Century of Unix and Casting the Net: From ARPANET to Internet and Beyond.
In the first chapter, Salus sets the tone for what is to come, introducing his subject as follows:

Chapter 0. 1968 and 1969
1. In June 1968, the Federal Communications Commission's "Carterphone" decision compelled AT&T to allow its customers to connect non-Western Electric equipment to the telephone network. [FCC Docket Number 16942; 13 FCC 2nd, 420]. 2. In July 1968, Andrew Grove and Gordon Moore founded Intel. 3. In August 1968, William G. McGowan established Microwave Communications of America [MCI] and the FCC ruled that MCI could compete with AT&T, using microwave transport between Chicago and St. Louis. 4. In December 1968, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency let a contract to Bolt, Beranek and Newman of Cambridge, MA, for just over $1 million. The contract was for a packet-switching network of four nodes.
Four more events of importance followed the next year.
1. In August, humans landed on the moon. 2. Summer saw the invention of UNIX. 3. In the autumn, those first four nodes of the ARPAnet went up. 4. And, in December, Linus Torvalds was born.
Had anyone asked, I would have thought the first of these events was the most important. Outside of his immediate family, I seriously doubt whether anyone even knew about the last of these.
As of the outset of the Twenty-First Century, the moon landing has taken us nowhere. The other items in this list though are the stuff of revolution.

The funny thing is, he's right.
It's a great read, and I recommend it. It's also a throwback to the age of Dickens, when serials were all the rage, and the public waited impatiently each week for the new issue of the weekly magazine in which would appear the next chapter of Great Expectations or David Copperfield.
So forget the next episode of West Wing, and tune in on line each Thursday instead to learn Where It All Began, at least until Salus reaches the (thankfully) still exciting times of today, and the continuing saga of life, the Internet, and everything to come.