Reed's views, was [e2e] Cannara's views

John Day day at
Mon Apr 16 07:32:39 PDT 2001

One other thing I was going to mention last night and forgot.

As to the "short-sightedness" of 32 bit addresses and why would we be 
so stupid when we had Ethernet as an example.  The answer is quite 
simple.  Ethernet was already a commercial effort.  The Internet 
wasn't and was far from it.  If you had suggested to anyone in 1976 
or so that we would be able to take a military/academic research 
network into the commercial space untouched, everyone would have 
figured you were smokin' something you shouldn't have.  All of the 
examples we had to that time of taking things out of research into 
the commercial world involved building a duplicate from scratch.  The 
idea that we could transition the network as it was to the commercial 
world seemed a remote highly unlikely possibility.  So given the 
perceived scope of the Internet at the time 32 bits were chosen, 32 
bits was overkill.  In fact, if you want to get an indication of the 
thinking at the time, go to the IANA sight and look at who has Class 
A's assigned to them, and think how we might do it now.  VERY 
different ideas there.

In fact, even Ethernet reflects the state of our understanding at the 
time.  Then we didn't understand that addresses only had to have the 
scope of the layer in which they were used.  I really doubt that 
there will ever be an Ethernet segment or even a bridged ethernet 
with 2**48 devices or anything remotely close to it.  16 bits would 
have been more than enough.  What is interesting is that IEEE 802 
still hasn't figured it out.  Look at firewire addresses.

And when it really comes down to it, do we really think that our 
brilliant technical insights had anything to do with the success of 
TCP/IP?  Or did it really have more to do with economics and politics 
and timing?  A hard look at the events would seem to indicate that 
things outside the technical had more to do with the current success 
of the Internet than our technical solutions.

Take care,

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