by Darius Kazemi, March 19 2019

In 2019 I'm reading one RFC a day in chronological order starting from the very first one. More on this project here. There is a table of contents for all my RFC posts.

Human factors

RFC-78 is called “NCP Status Report: UCSB/RAND”. It's authored by Eric Harslem and John Heafner of RAND, and Jim White of UCSB. It appears to be undated but is listed as “October 1970” on the official RFC Editor site. However, I would date this as November 1970 because in RFC-77, the tests described in RFC-78 are described:

Eric Harslem mentioned that RAND and UCSB had conducted tests of their NCP implementations last week (10 Nov 70) and that things worked well.

So I imagine this was published in late November 1970, probably between Nov 20 and Nov 30.

The technical content

The UCSB and RAND sites connected to each other in order to test their Network Control Program (NCP) implementations. These implementations worked on a technical level. They were transmitting graphics over the network (!) and apparently there were “human factors” problems with the data transmitted. But the NCPs at both sites worked on a basic level.


Reading between the lines, I imagine what happened was something like what happens to me a lot I'm programming something involving a graphics pipeline. “YES, I can write to the screen, it compiles and works! NO, it's a garbled mess.” So probably they looked at the mess and said, “Well, the data is transmitting so we'll call that win. We still need some work to make this useful to humans.”

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About me

I'm Darius Kazemi. I'm a Mozilla Fellow and I do a lot of work on the decentralized web with both ActivityPub and the Dat Project.