[sf-lug] book review: On the Way to the Web

Bobbie Sellers bliss at sfo.com
Fri Oct 24 08:19:42 PDT 2008

"On the Way to the Web" subtitled as "The secret History of the
Internet and its Founders".

	By Michael A.Banks (a very experienced author in the field)

	Foreword by Orson Scott Card and that essay alone should
be read even if you know the whole history of the Internet and
all the convoluted financial arrangements.  If you have a grasp
of exactly how the net was put together then you might want to
check this well documented book with a full bibliography.

	About 250 pages and an easy read for people aware of
the way net communications have come about in the broadest

	I enjoyed this book very much but the nostalgia of
the Card foreword was a great lead in to the discussion of
the ideas of the net and the development from theory to the
attempts to get online services up and running.  I missed
a lot of these early services because I simply could not
afford them as I found the early home computers which were
easier to use very expensive as well as the services.
	But here are all the details of when, who and how they
tried to make money out of the human desire to communicate
and I found this a hard book to put down.

   	I remember trying to decide on an information service to join 
and then figuring out that joining several was necessary for a
balanced service.  I finally got late into BBS services and used
to call several including those of shareware providers from one
side of the USA to the other.  I spent a lot of money keeping more
than one BBS on line as long as I could but eventually that whole
scene went away and I was forced to start paying an ISP and go on
the Internet.

	This book makes sense of what was a confusing pre-Internet
scene with entrepreneurs starting fresh companies as their
personalities were incompatible with actually sticking with an
up and running company.  It covers the origins of ARPAnet and
DARPAnet and the end of these early attempts at a network of
networks over a wide area.  There are screen shots in the book
of the early services opening pages and a Time Line section
to help us follow along.

	Nostalgia, historical, technical and personal were
raised by this book.  I would buy it.

     Bobbie Sellers
     bliss at sfo dot com

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