Teus Hagen: Okay, I was on the very ear­ly state of what we nowa­days call Internet. At that time it was called ARPANET or some­thing like that. And what I was, I was chair of the Unix user group in Europe, which we had in about twenty-six coun­tries, all nation­al groups. And I was locat­ed in Amsterdam. So I start­ed as a stu­dent at the University of Amsterdam and at the free uni­ver­si­ty, because com­put­er sci­ence was not invent­ed at that moment at uni­ver­si­ties. So, I was one of the first stu­dents who did a study in com­put­er sci­ence. I was locat­ed at Mathematical Center, which is a math research cen­ter for uni­ver­si­ties. So we did only research. 

So I encoun­tered a prob­lem ways hav­ing Unix sys­tems all over Europe spread around and to com­mu­ni­cate with them. And the com­pli­ca­tion was [] with the Unix sys­tem, Unix-to-Unix Copy pro­gram, UUCP. And we ini­ti­at­ed to call every­body up by the phone, or every com­put­er up by the phone. And an anec­dote at that time, it was not expect­ed that com­put­ers will ring up each oth­er. So for instance in France, you had to announce your­self with your name. So we invent­ed some pro­grams to spell their name. Which was at that moment. And we drew email main­ly, and some Usenet news sys­tems all over the world, or all over Europe, towards some sys­tems in the US. So that was the first step. So that was build­ing the infra­struc­ture for basi­cal­ly Unix sys­tems at that time. 

We announced the EUnet, European Unix net­work in April 1982. So you must think of the time that com­putes were huge. Cooling sys­tems were huge. To give you a pic­ture, the RMO5 disc was 67 megabytes of disk space, was the size of the table refrig­er­a­tor, and cost about €40,000. The about $70,000. Running on 380 volts. So, if you com­pare that with a USB stick, you can imag­ine what a dif­fer­ence and what evo­lu­tion has being. Even so, for Internet, our prob­lem was basi­cal­ly that the TCP/IP pro­to­col was not allowed to be researched and to be stud­ied because the for­mal sci­ence decid­ed that it should be only the OC stan­dard. Which was a very com­plex stan­dard, very com­plex. And we did­n’t want that. We want­ed a very easy-to-do and to dis­sem­i­nate all over Europe pro­to­col, and that was TCP/IP.

So we tried to con­nect to the ARPANET. And that was the Ministry of Defense, and at that time­frame we were in let’s say a cold war” with Russia. And we were not allowed to attest to that. So we silent­ly set up from phone lines SLIP pro­to­col, TCP over ser­i­al lines. And start­ed to do Internet. Originally we start­ed with about ten sites spread over Europe. And with­in two years—that’s about 1984 [indis­tinct], we had about 300 sites connected. 

From there, we start­ed to we have a foun­da­tion in Holland. That’s the NLnet Foundation. And we start­ed to do Internet ser­vice pro­vi­sion. And that was at first only for aca­d­e­mics and insti­tutes. Because we want­ed to keep the costs very low. And lat­er we entered the com­mer­cial world, try­ing to hook up every­body who want­ed to be hooked up and to dial in. We start­ed to do the ser­vice pro­vi­sion. So that’s in short how it came from let’s say an aca­d­e­m­ic envi­ron­ment, to a com­mer­cial environment. 

We had also our nor­mal work some­where else, in research main­ly. And we did the Internet ser­vice pro­vi­sion as a com­mer­cial insti­tute as a side-effect. And the side-effect was com­pe­ti­tion. And we end­ed up with about 180 peo­ple as employ­ees. And that in your free time is not pos­si­ble. So we said okay, is this our world? Is this what we want­ed to do? No, we don’t want that. And we end­ed up sell­ing NLnet, which is the back­bone provider in Holland, to UUnet Worldcom, and end­ed up with a lot of mon­ey. And no ser­vice pro­vi­sion any­more. So we could do what­ev­er we want­ed and the main fac­tor was to bring back our achieve­ments, our tech­nol­o­gy achieve­ments, back to the com­mu­ni­ty who did that, the tech­nol­o­gy peo­ple, and said hey, we want to stim­u­late new prod­ucts on the Internet. And did that with about a bud­get of about $1.5 mil­lion per year. Open source projects should be stim­u­lat­ed, and that was the sec­ond life­time of our work in Holland. 

I’m speak­ing about we” because Internet was not pos­si­ble with­out a lot of peo­ple who did what­ev­er they did and I was just in charge as the chair­man. That’s all. 

Intertitle: Describe one of the break­through moments or move­ments of the Internet in which you have been a key participant.

Hagen: The break­points that aca­d­e­mics went over and left their thing that it should have always been OC. So the aca­d­e­m­ic net­works went to TCP/IP. That was the first break. Second break, that every­body could dial in for very low cost. So every­body could inter­act and com­mu­ni­cates via Internet with each oth­er. And oth­er break­points were HTTP, main from CERN. And AltaVista, who was mak­ing the search engine, and lat­er Google earned a lot of mon­ey, but AltaVista did the breakthrough. 

Intertitle: Describe the state of the Internet today with a weath­er anal­o­gy and explain why.

Hagen: I think that the weath­er is still to come. Many peo­ple will think dif­fer­ent. The thun­der weath­er which is com­ing up is our pri­va­cy, pri­va­cy con­cerns. To keep our pri­va­cy. To keep your iden­ti­ty. And to keep it secure. And that aware­ness is not by the user. It’s even not by the tech­ni­cians there. And a lot has to be done there. And gov­ern­ments will have their own opin­ion about that, as they usu­al­ly have. And some of the signs for thun­der weath­er are the cur­rent thing with NSA, for instance. And also yeah, there’s a lot of com­merce going on, web shops. And they’re not secured. 

Intertitle: Is there action that should be tak­en to ensure the best pos­si­ble future?

Hagen: The main action is aware­ness. And real aware­ness, not fear but aware­ness. And what can we do? Help. Some enti­ties do that. Some insti­tutes do that. ISOC is a big exam­ple. RIPE is anoth­er exam­ple. But also oth­er groups like the EFF are doing a lot of work and mak­ing aware­ness. Hey, this is what you can do. Do it. And try to evolve from that.” 

Other things are new tech­nolo­gies like DNSSEC and IP ver­sion 6. We’re talk­ing so many years about it, and it’s not there. DNSSEC is—in Holland at least—25% of the domains are on DNSSEC. And that’s not a lot. 

Intertitle: Is there any­thing else you would like to add?

Hagen: I do a lot in [eth­i­cal?] hack­ing to make aware­ness of, Hey, you can improve that.” I make pre­sen­ta­tions on that. For instance I did a sur­vey on the SSL con­fig­u­ra­tions… If you know what SSLHTTPS—that’s one part of it. On the SSL con­fig­u­ra­tions of all the sites in Holland. And I cat­e­go­rized them in gov­ern­ment, semi-government, in edu­ca­tion, aca­d­e­mics, in health­care, in web shops, and in secu­ri­ty com­pa­nies. And in banks. 

And the banks…I did two of the banks in Holland, I did that two years ago, the pre­sen­ta­tion. Two of the banks were furi­ous and were send­ing out lawyers to my— Lawyers don’t help to improve it. 

But they’re okay now. They’re bet­ter. So they improved. Banks are improv­ing. Still there are a lot of prob­lems with the mix­ture of HTTP and HTTPS. But it’s improv­ing a lot. Healthcare is a shame. Education—and I test­ed com­put­er sci­ence edu­ca­tion depart­ments, it’s a shame. 

So there’s a lot to be learned there. The tech­nol­o­gy is there. The con­fig­u­ra­tion the and know-how should be there. So it’s edu­ca­tion. And there’s a lot to be done there. So the way to do that, to help that improve­ment, is doing pre­sen­ta­tions, doing shock affects, and that helps. Then you get to the paper. They make non­sense out of it, but okay. The thing is set there.

Further Reference

https://​www​.inter​nethallof​fame​.org/​i​n​d​u​c​t​e​e​s​/​t​e​u​s​-​h​a​genTeus Hagen pro­file, Internet Hall of Fame 2013


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