• United States
by Readers

Letters to the editor: “20 network-changing products in 20 years”

Apr 24, 20066 mins
Data Center

Also: timeline of network industry milestones; IT’s big flops, router founder, firewall inventor

Timeline additions

Two comments regarding the timeline of network industry milestones: 1) AppleTalk was released in 1984 (under the name AppleBus).

2) You missed the result of 3Com purchasing Bridge Communications in 1987. Krause/Metcalf cancelled the Bridge IP router, stating “who would want to do that?” This left the IP router market to Cisco, unchallenged. Eric Benhamou’s Renaissance plan was to resurrect the bridge router, and it became the Netbuilder 1, years later, and too late.

What a great historical perspective! Really took me back. And thanks for the accuracy in Bill Yeager’s interview!

Chris Ranch

Director of network architecture

Affinity Internet

Silicon Valley

Token affection

Regarding “IT’s big flops”: The Token Ring analysis is all wrong. 4M-byte Token Ring completed against coax shared Ethernet that required vampire taps and was a lot clumsier (and slower due to collisions) than Token Ring. 16M-byte Token Ring was out long before 100M-byte Ethernet. It was much faster than the 10M-byte Ethernet at the time due to packet size and bandwidth. However, Ethernet had the advantage of running well on unshielded twisted pair wiring, which Token Ring never really ran on well. FDDI (a type of Token Ring) and TCNS (a type of ArcNet) could run 100M bytes long before Ethernet. The things that killed Token Ring were not technology related. They were Ellen Hancock’s (then head of IBM’s network group) desire to run ATM to the desktop and the license fee that kept the costs slightly above Ethernet costs.

Lorie Mouklas

Morristown, N.J.

Net-changing products

I had a few issues with the article, “20 network-changing products in 20 years”: 1) BSD was around long before Linux and BSD was open source since the beginning (i.e. since it was AT&T Unix) 2) Even though Google is pretty cool now, I believe that Yahoo! was the pioneer that brought content to search engines (i.e. Yahoo! Groups, Email, News, Weather, etc.).

3) Even though I’m not a fan, Java probably does deserve a mention in the list. I feel strongly that BSD should definitely be listed as a network-changing product because BSD was the vessel where TCP/IP was made more available to a larger audience (universities and research institutions) and thus became the de facto for network communications even outside the realm of the Department of Defense, where TCP/IP was created. (More information about the history of BSD can be found here.)

Joseph Garcia

Network administrator

Intex Recreation

Long Beach, Calif.

Router Man

Thanks for a very well written article regarding Bill Yeager, founder of the multiprotocol router. For me, Yeager, the Router Man, is the quintessential U.S. university-based high-tech researcher that helped to create the foundation upon which the U.S. high-tech revolution was built.

Here is a man devoted to doing good work and open to sharing his work with others who wanted to improve on it like Len Bosack, Cisco co-founder.

What makes the U.S. great is the combo of people like Yeager, its universities, the U.S. government and its high-tech sector which, working together, were able to produce the PC, LAN and Internet, which has permanently transformed the world we live in for the better.

Thanks to Americans like Yeager, not only is the U.S. socially and economically, but also the world is economically and socially more advanced. To the captains of U.S. technology, I say, “Forward, ho!”

Kenneth Selin




Influential people

Regarding the article in your 20th Anniversary Issue, “20 people who changed the industry”: Gil Schwed and Shlomo Kramer “invented” the firewall? Give me a break! Check Point came on the market five years after Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) was selling the SEAL firewall, four years after ANS was selling the InterLock and Raptor was selling the Eagle, and one year after Trusted Information Systems (TIS) was selling the Gauntlet.

Marcus Ranum

Chief security officer

Tenable Network Security

Columbia, Md.

Shlomo Kramer the “father of the firewall”? Check Point only marketed it better and arrived on the scene years after the seminal work of Dave Presotto, Steve Bellovin and Bill Cheswick of the former AT&T Bell Labs; Marcus Ranum and Fred Avolio of DEC; Brent Chapman of Great Circle; and countless others had already described, sold, installed (I participated in the installation of the second DEC SEAL firewall long before Check Point was even a blip on the horizon in 1992) and sweated through developing the nascent protection mechanisms that most folks take for granted today. That this packet filtering product was able to gain mind share may be due more to corporate arteriosclerosis on the part of real pioneering companies such as the old AT&T, DEC and others than it was to any bleeding-edge advances that came out of Check Point.

Bryan Boyle

Senior security architect

Trenton, N.J.

Check Point invented the firewall? That’s the most revisionist historical perspective I’ve ever heard. DEC SEAL was the first commercial firewall, followed by the TIS Firewall Toolkit and Gauntlet; Check Point didn’t come into play until the market was already established. I’d consider Marcus Ranum the father of the firewall, since he was responsible for all of the above products.

Paul Robertson

Moderator, Firewall-Wizards

Editor, Network Firewalls FAQ

Alexandria, Va.

I like Gil Schwed and Shlomo Kramer well enough. But, surely even they would say before them was DEC SEAL (the first commercial firewall, installed at DuPont in Wilmington, Del., in June 1991), Raptor, NSC and TIS Firewall Toolkit. They certainly did not invent the firewall and surely have the integrity to say that they did not. Bill Cheswick and Steve Bellovin were well before.

Cheswick, Bellovin and Marcus Ranum should have been mentioned, not Shlomo and Gil. But, Ches, Steve and Marcus did not make millions.

Fred Avolio


Avolio Consulting

Lisbon, Md.

I’d give the father of the firewall award to Jeff Mogul for his work on screend. Dave Presotto built the earliest application-level firewall that I know of. Bill Cheswick Chief scientist Lumeta Somerset, N.J.

Editor’s note: While the “father of the firewall” title does indeed seem better placed with another individual — although to whom that distinction should go not even the security experts themselves agree — Kramer and Schwed certainly do deserve credit as evangelizing the technology and spurring widespread enterprise use.

It is a shame your story about influential tech greats doesn’t mention Richard Stallman. Stallman and his team did most of the work on GNU/Linux. Linus Tovalds just came along at the right time with the last piece before Stallman finished it. Stallman is a true tech great.

Stallman has always been and still is a vocal supporter of open source software, helped create the GPL license and in a sense is the founder of the open source movement.

Sigfrido Chirinos

West Chester, Pa.