Oral Histories

Interview of Charles Kline

Co-Principal investigator for UCLA’s Defense Department sponsored ARPANET project which created a “wide-area packet-switched network.”
Early Internet History at UCLA: The ARPANET Network Measurement Center
UCLA and University of California History
Science, Medicine, and Technology
UCLA Research Centers and Programs
Fidler, Bradley
Kline, Charles
Persons Present:
Kline and Fidler.
Place Conducted:
Kline's home in Los Altos, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Bradley Fidler, Assistant Researcher, UCLA Computer Science Department; Ph.D. UCLA (History of Science). Fidler prepared for the interview by reading extensive primary source documents that were generated by the Network Measurement Center between 1969 and 1975, as well as materials from UCLA’s work on the ARPANET after the Network Measurement Center was closed in 1975. Many of these documents were available to him through the archive maintained by the Kleinrock Center for Internet Studies at UCLA, a part of the UCLA Special Collections. As part of his research for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the UCLA Computer Science Department, the interviewer has studied at length ARPANET technical and policy documents, and has interviewed and spoken with other key individuals from the early ARPANET. The interviewer conducted background research on each interviewee by completing a brief pre-interview, obtaining their résumé or CV, reviewing their published works, if any, reading documentary materials that shed further light on their roles in ARPANET history, and reading any existing interviews.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Kline was then given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
4 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The purpose of this oral history series is to document the context and early technological development of the ARPANET, the network that went online in 1969 and grew into the Internet. Interviewees include the Center’s Principal Investigator, three researchers, and the center administrator. The Network Measurement Center is significant in the history of the ARPANET and the Internet because it was the first systematic study of a large, general purpose computer network. In addition to testing and validating theories about computer networks, staff at the center were active in detecting and suggesting areas where the technologies could be improved. The center was also involved in experiments with radio and satellite networks that led to the development of TCP/IP, the protocol suite that drives the modern Internet. This series of interviews was made possible through funds provided by Gold Shield, Alumnae of UCLA.
Early childhood in New York and Los Angeles – Deciding to become an engineer – Early programming in FORTRAN – Being admitted to the University of California Los Angeles as an undergraduate in 1965 – Research under Gerald Estrin at the UCLA College of Engineering – Undergraduate studies at UCLA – More on research under Gerald Estrin with Steven Crocker and Vinton Cerf – Becoming the SDS Sigma 7 specialist and building its operating system – Moving to Leonard Kleinrock’s group and early preparations for the ARPANET in 1968 – Developing the Host-IMP (Interface Message Processor) interface – The arrival and setup of the Interface Message Processor at UCLA – Developing the capability to load Interface Message Processor software remotely – Early development of routing algorithms – Development of the Network Control Program (NCP; i.e. Host-Host Protocol) – Pre-email electronic messaging – Early resource sharing goals of the ARPANET – More on the development of the Network Control Program and ARPANET more generally, including design mistakes, work and management philosophy, personalities, and the Request For Comments (RFC) series – The contents of ARPA’s Computer Network RFP – Observations on the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) - Technology demonstrations for ARPA bosses – Formal staff titles and expansion of responsibilities at UCLA – Moving from working with Leonard Kleinrock to Gerald Popek in 1973-74 – ARPA’s funding strategy for computer science – Debugging and implementing the Network Control Program - Measurement functions of UCLA’s Network Measurement Center and BBN’s Network Control Center – Discussing and meeting on other research topics beyond the SDS Sigma 7 and software development – Early attempts to intern-connect networks to the ARPANET, such as ALOHANET and University College London – The relationship between the Network Control Program and the development of the Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol and inter-networking experiments – Voice experiments on the ARPANET - More observations on the design of the Network Control Program vis-à-vis TCP/IP – Early ARPANET design decisions, including layering and implementing the Network Control Program – Implementing TCP across the ARPANET – Changes to local computing practices due to the ARPANET – Local computing practices in the early 1970s and how users gained access to the ARPANET – Social and professional uses of the ARPANET throughout the 1970s – Computer terminal technologies - Obtaining and providing ARPANET access on local and remote sites – Developing new remote access techniques for the ARPANET – Using email through the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) – Observations on the history of the USC Information Sciences Institute – More on access policies across the ARPANET – Scarce computing resources and their impact on ARPANET access policies, and when work was scheduled on computer systems – Origins, purposes, and functions of the ARPA Network Terminal System (ANTS) – More on remote access to UCLA computer resources – The role of computer maintenance and other computer requirements in structuring work time – Beginning work on computer security in 1973-74 and this work’s relationship to distributed computing – Security concerns in computer and network security research in 1979 - Relationship between Kline’s security research, security work underway at BBN, and the needs of military and intelligence communities – Impact of Kline’s security research – Impacts of the transfer of ARPANET management to the Defense Communications Agency – Management strategy and philosophy at the ARPA IPTO – Observations on the Internet in historical perspective – Contact with and knowledge of computer networks outside of the United States – The role of ARPA in creating inter-network compatibility – Predictions on the future of the Internet