Oral Histories

Interview of Leonard Kleinrock

Ran the Network Measurement Center for UCLA’s U.S. Defense Department sponsored ARPANET project which created a “wide-area packet-switched network.”
Early Internet History at UCLA: The ARPANET Network Measurement Center
Science, Medicine, and Technology
UCLA and University of California History
UCLA Research Centers and Programs
Biographical Note:
Ran the Network Measurement Center for UCLA’s U.S. Defense Department sponsored ARPANET project which created a “wide-area packet-switched network.”
Fidler, Bradley
Kleinrock, Leonard
Persons Present:
Kleinrock and Fidler.
Place Conducted:
Kleinrock's office in Los Angeles, 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. Kleinrock was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and made a number of corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
3.8 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.
Parents’ and extended family’s background in New York and immigration to US - Mother’s education and beauty – Father’s experiences as a child during World War I in Europe – Father’s courtship of his mother – Father’s work as a grocery clerk – family’s religious and political traditions – Father’s purchase of a grocery store – Family’s neighborhoods during his early life – Living as a Jew in a dominant catholic neighborhood – Experiences with gangs and learning the streets – Growing up in a strict ‘old school’ household headed by his father – Experiences with elementary school – Understanding of socioeconomic background – Socializing in elementary school and interests – Father’s illness and its consequences, especially economic – Junior high school – Interest in electronics, building radios, other hobbies – Feeling isolated – Introduction to social studies, practical uses of science, and physics – Being not socially adept – Observations on similar childhood interests of later colleagues – Part time work during high school – Experiences at high school – Experiences in the Sea Scouts and Boy Scouts – Arriving at City College of New York – Lifeguarding in the Lower East Side – Working at Photobell Corporation – City College of New York Housing Plan – City College of New York evening session – Marriage – Entering the MIT Staff Associate Program and the Servomechanisms Lab – Experiences at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the TX-2 – Working with Ken Olson and the founding of Digital Equipment Corporation – Work on thin magnetic films – starting a family and decision to begin a PhD at MIT – Meeting and working with Claude Shannon – Developing a chess playing computer program – Deciding on a PhD research topic – Early observations on the requirements of computer networks – Intellectual influences of Claude Shannon – Queueing theory – Influence of James Jackson – Influence of A K Erlang – The relationship between queuing theory and packet switching – The independence assumption – Creating a simulation program on the TX-2 – Relationship with Larry Roberts and Ivan Sutherland – PhD research and its findings – Decision to join UCLA
Arriving at UCLA in 1963 and continuing research – Attempts to convince industry to adopt networking technologies – Origins of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) – Founding of the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) – Licklider and man-computer symbiosis – Attempts to create a three-computer network at UCLA in 1965 – Robert Taylor becomes director of IPTO and the individualization of computing centers – Realizing computers would eventually need to talk to each other – Lawrence Roberts’ effort to implement the ARPA Network – Defining specifications for the ARPANET, including the Interface Message Processor – Creating the Request For Quotation – Establishing the Network Measurement Center at UCLA – Experience in delegating authority and management philosophy – ARPA Principal Investigator meetings – Activities of his graduate students, including the Network Working Group and Request For Comments (RFC) – More on management strategy and the work environment – Autonomy of graduate students – The beginnings of social media – Efforts to get sites to join the network, and spotty early use – Effects of introducing the Host-to-Host protocol – Early email introduced by Ray Tomlinson at BBN – More on management philosophy at the Network Measurement Center – Groups within the Network Measurement Center – Perceptions of risk over time in the development of networking technology – Trust on the early network and the lack of focus on security – Public demonstration of the ARPANET in 1972 at the International Conference on Computer Communication – Learning what else was being done on the network – Growth of the ARPANET and connections to other networks – A sense of camaraderie on the early ARPANET – Observing that the ARPANET and internet will continue to grow on its own, with international links and links to other networks – Transferring the ARPANET to the Defense Communications Agency – Differentiating the Network Measurement Center from the ARPANET node at UCLA – Measurement experiments at the Network Measurement Center – Relationship with Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) – Traffic measurements with William (Bill) Naylor – Local uses of the ARPANET and Ethernet