by Darius Kazemi, April 6 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.

An experiment

RFC-96 is titled “An Interactive Network Experiment to Study Modes of Access the Network Information Center”. It's authored by Richard W. Watson of the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute (SRI-ARC), dated February 12th, 1971.

The technical content

The RFC begins by explaining that SRI-ARC wants to provide network access to services at the Network Information Center. The original SRI-ARC Online System is a graphics-oriented one, and the author notes that they are now developing a “typewriter version”. This is presumably since the network doesn't have a graphics standard yet, though the author does not say so. By “typewriter” he means a teletype or teleprinter, and he recommends one that can print 30 characters per second as a good baseline.

The author proposes a three-month-long experiment to determine the best way to provide the NIC services throughout the network. They'd collect network statistics and subjective impressions of participants.

The paper then goes on to describe some remote connection methods that they want to try out on users. Essentially they want to see what user experience is like when individual ASCII characters are sent as they are typed (and whether this should be full duplex (simutaneous) or half duplex (taking turns)), versus sending a full line/command at a time over the network.

They mention that on the old SRI-UTAH connection it could take up to 4 or 5 seconds for a single character to be transmitted from one Host to the other.


This seems like a good test to do.

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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.