There was really no real security built, other than things like passwords and maybe some encryption here or there. And the attitude that my boss had at National Science Foundation was, “That’s not our concern. This is for the academics. People want to build in all kinds of security, that’s somebody else’s problem.” I think that was a very valid point at that time, but that was 1990.
RNP was launched in September 1989, exactly thirty years ago this month. So we’re now at the stage of looking back and seeing how we are at present.
Part of my networking experience as I grew as a networking person, and Internet person, people would come up and say, “Well what was it like to be a woman in a men’s field?” And I’ve gotta compliment the Merit folks who hired the NSFNET staff. They were gender-blind.
So many previous awardees have spoken of the magic sauce of the Internet. The opposite of secret sauce, I guess, because they all use the word “open.” Open standards, open architecture, open source. They said this openness is what made the Internet the Internet. Which sounds mostly right, although not much like how we experience the Internet today.
One of the things that we have discovered over and over again, as we build networks that move electrons around and photons around, is that human beings use those to connect with one another. We think we’re connecting computers together, it turns out we’re connecting human beings together.