Oral Histories

Interview of Mario Gerla

Member of the research team at 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:
Member of the research team at the Network Measurement Center for UCLA’s U.S. Defense Department sponsored ARPANET project which created a “wide-area packet-switched network.”
Fidler, Bradley
Gerla, Mario
Persons Present:
Gerla and Fidler.
Place Conducted:
Gerla's office at UCLA 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. Gerla was then given an opportunity to review the transcript but made no corrections or additions.
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.
Early interest in computing at Politecnico di Milano – Experience with the politics of the 1960s in Italy – Undergraduate program at Politecnico di Milano until 1966 and work on Lincoln Labs Experimental Satellite (#6) with the Italian Navy – Coming to the US for a MS degree at UCLA – Learning about ARPA and the ARPANET and working on ARPANET research in 1970 – Early research with the Network Measurement Center – Dissertation research until 1973 PhD – Considering the future of networked computing in the early 1970s – Spreading knowledge of networked computing – Using the ARPANET in the 1970s – Working at Network Analysis Corporation and proposing new uses of the ARPANET – Relationship between the Network Analysis Corporation and Bolt Beranek and Newman – Impact of DARPA funding on networked computing research – Feelings about DARPA in the early 1970s amongst students – More on DARPA funding and support – Evaluation strategies at different institutions with DARPA support – Working with Bolt Beranek and Newman at Network Analysis Corporation – Working on other networks at Network Analysis Corporation – Technology transfer from the Network Measurement Center and the Network Analysis Corporation to other organizations – Packet radio and packet satellite research – Work at Computer Transmission Corporation – Controversy over virtual circuits and datagrams – Access and security controls on the ARPANET – Returning to UCLA in 1976 and work during that time – Overall work of the Network Measurement Center – Early development of network protocols and controversy between them – Other networking efforts underway during ARPANET – Changes in DARPA during the 1990s – Responsibility to peer groups and colleagues in DARPA research and contemporary cynicism in research – DARPA approach to research in historical perspective – Changes in using the ARPANET, email, and the WWW – Historical perspectives on internet use – Experiencing decommissioning of the ARPANET and inter-networking
Work on the Lincoln Labs Experimental Satellite in 1966-68 – Arriving at UCLA in 1970, joining the UCLA Computer Science PhD program, and deciding a research topic – Colleagues and collaboration style during the PhD program – PhD dissertation – Relationship of the ARPANET to European networks – Expectations of the ARPANET’s development future computer networks – More on PhD dissertation – Performance evaluation of networks – Developments of and discussions on routing algorithms for the ARPANET – Observations on the development of TCP on the ARPANET – Work at the Network Analysis Corporation and proposing networks to organizations – Collaboration strategies – More on the Network Analysis Corporation: how networks were proposed to organizations and how it began working on the ARPANET – Work on packet radio by Network Analysis Corporation – Network tools and techniques brought from UCLA to the Network Analysis Corporation – Work at the Computer Transmission Corporation – The role of standards in the development of computer networks and work on PAUCIT - Work on SATNET at UCLA – Introducing the ARPANET to other countries, including Italy and the role of the Department of Defense – Spreading networked computing practices and technologies – Final thoughts on the internet in historical perspective, and the impact of commerce.