Where Wizards Stay Up Late

Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet
Authored by Katie Hafner And Matthew Lyon

Reviewed by Robert Warwick

These days we take networks for granted. Who needs to transfer files via disk when a quick Appletalk connection will do the job? All machines can talk to each other. The Internet is there and works quickly, reliably, and is easy to hook up to.

Yet as little as forty years ago, networks were nowhere to be found. Not in the home, the office, or the country. They were just a concept by a group of scientists in a then emerging field. Digital computers.

In those days, only research organizations, universities, and large companies could even afford to have a computer. Resources were being wasted because each of the computers was isolated from one another. Not only were they not hooked together, they didn't even speak the same language!

"Where Wizards Stay Up Late - The Origins of the Internet" tells the story of the men and woman who were involved in building the first wide scale computer network. From designers, to companies, to programmers, including my personal hero, Willy Crowther.

This book doesn't merely list the technical details, nor does it sweep them aside in favor of the story. "Where Wizards Stay Up Late" weaves the two components together and transparently.

Anyone who enjoys a good story or a good history will enjoy this book. Don't expect the details to be missing. It tells everything from Crowthers sneakers to the head funding offices in the US Department of Defense.

As a Canadian, I expected this story to be completely concentrated on the US part of the project, however other country's and peoples contributions are mentioned for what they were.

This is one of the books that I am truly sorry to read the last page, because that means its all over. Luckily it isn't. The internet is still in its youth, and there is still a lot of story to be written.

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King Beetle's picture

I read this book myself a few years back.

For anyone interested, here's a link to my review of the book.