early desktop TCP/IP implementations (was Re: "first" computer on the internet)

Ethan Dicks ethan.dicks at usap.gov
Wed Jul 23 15:43:03 CDT 2008

On Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 06:41:04PM +0100, Liam Proven wrote:
> 2008/7/23 Eric J Korpela <korpela at ssl.berkeley.edu>:
> >> And what was the first operating system to have builtin support for internet
> >> access?  Did Windows for Workgroups have this or was that just LAN
> >> networking?
> >
> > I'm fairly sure WfW had TCP/IP.
> Optional extra, downloaded from MS, for 3.1. Built in to 3.11 but only
> a 16-bit DOS stack; the 32-bit protect-mode stack came later. Only ran
> over LANs, couldn't do dialup; IE included its own dialup stack
> licences in from Shiva.

My recollection from 1995 is having to download a package direct from MS
to use TCP/IP with WfW 3.11, but perhaps that was just clients and the
stack was built-in.

I never did TCP/IP dialup directly from a Windows box - I always had
something "smarter" between me and the phone (like a "WebRamp", OS/68K-
based dial-up appliance).
> > Unix and Linux, yes.  MacOS didn't have built in TCP/IP until MacOS 8
> > in 1997.
> OpenTransport came in with MacOS 7.6, I think in '96 or so. Before
> that, 7.5 came with MacTCP, which was available back to System 6. I
> have a Classic II running it.

I don't recall specifics, but given those version numbers, I think
we must have been running MacTCP on the first Macs I used that weren't
using Localtalk-only.

> > Trying to tie a Mac into a TCP/IP over Ethernet
> > network used to be an exercise in frustration.  Here at the lab in the
> > late 80s we used to localtalk the Macs together and have a single
> > localtalk to TCP/IP over Ethernet gateway.  It was slow, but it worked
> > and didn't require as much setup and software on each individual Mac.
> I used to get it working without too much trouble.

I don't recall any specific troubles hanging a Mac off of a TCP/IP
network in 1995-1996.  We definitely did not have any gateway boxes
(like Gatorboxes I saw at other facilities).  We configured the static
addresses and DNS servers right on the Macs (all of which had internal
Ethernet interfaces, of course, NuBus for most, PDS slots for some).

This was with at least one PowerMac (8100/av) and a wad of IIcs, FWIW.
We didn't have any compact or B&W Macs around by 1995.

> > I assume that AmigaOS was essentially static in the mid90s.  The late
> > 80s versions had no networking included that I'm aware of.
> 3.5 and 3.9 came with bundled 3rd party stacks, I believe. Dialup only, though.

The initial versions of AmigaDOS (1.0 for the A1000, 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 for
the A500 and A2000), did not have any sort of networking support from C=,
but I think there were a few products from third parties one could buy.  I
don't remember them being very popular.

By the late 1980s or very early 1990s, C= released docs on "SANA2", Standard
Amiga Network Architecture, but for a number of years, there wasn't much
out there to take advantage of it.  Long after LAN networking was available
for most contemporary desktops, it finally came to the Amiga.  The SANA2
spec was more about the low-level interface between your hardware and the
lowest layer of your networking stack - not quite wire-level protocol,
but it was more of a standard API than anything, with the intention that
you could insert some NIC-independence into the network stack.

There's a tale I remember running across back in the day that dave Haynie
repeatedly designed in a twisted-pair Arcnet interface based on, IIRC,
the COM20020 chip (or something close) with an RS-485 media layer, but
higher-ups equally repeatedly forced him to delete it.  I don't know if
that hardware was ever built, but I did acquire some samples and _almost_
built it.  It was probably around 1991 or so, long enough ago that there
might still be some debates on comp.sys.amiga.* about it and what sort
of network stack to put above it.

By the early-to-mid-1990s, C= came out with a less-than-universally-popular
SANA2-compliant network stack and application set to share drives and
printers and such. I even resold a few copies, bought from a former C=
employee (Dale Luck?) who got a license to resell it himself.  I think
I probably have 10-15 unsold copies in the original envelopes, lying
around the house.

By about 1994 or so, TCP/IP networking did come to the Amiga, first
for developers only and for the A2065 LANCE-chipset-based Ethernet
card, then for anything with a SANA2 driver.  I did get a copy of
that after I bought a used A2065, but eventually, there were other
stacks from other sources, like MIAMI, that would also do dialup.
IIRC, MIAMI isn't SANA2, but does have drivers for all the popular
ethernet cards and for dialup.

I started manufacturing the GG2 Bus+ right around this time.  The
most popular ISA card to use was an NE2000 with its SANA2 driver
and one of the TCP/IP stacks (serial and printer cards were another
common use, but Ethernet dominated the interests of the buyers).  Since
I charged $100-$125 for a GG2 Bus+, and you could add a $20-$45 Ethernet
card, it did take up two slots, but it was _much_ cheaper than an A2065.
There were also drivers for WD/SMC 8013 cards and at least one other type
of ISA 10Mbps card, but that solution really lost popularity when 
some of the accelerator cards included 10/100 NICs onboard.  There
was only ever one 10/100 NIC I know of for the ISA bus, an obscure
and expensive one from 3Com, so GG2 Bus+ sales pretty much dried up
after 1997.

> > At least for a PC under DOS, free packet drivers with TCP/IP were
> > available even if it wasn't included with the OS.
> The MS Workgroup Client did TCP/IP and was a free download and bundled
> on the CD with NT Server from 3.1, the first version, in 1993. I still
> use it today for Ghosting PCs.

I use free TCP/IP with 8-bit machines all the time - MS-Kermit on top
of a packet driver.  I use it to telnet around various machines in my
house, and to move files to/from my PC-based EPROM burner.  The burner
_can't_ go in a modern machine (proprietary 8-bit ISA parallel interface
card), so the fastest machine I've used for that is a Compaq laptop
and docking station (for the burner card and the NIC).  I've also used
this same software arrangement with a dual-floppy Zenith laptop and a
Xircom pocket adapter, but mostly as an Ethernet-equipped portable
terminal.  Literally DOS + packet driver + Kermit... nothing else
on the boot floppy.


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