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Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet
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Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  3,143 Ratings  ·  200 Reviews
Twenty five years ago, it didn't exist. Today, twenty million people worldwide are surfing the Net. Where Wizards Stay Up Late is the exciting story of the pioneers responsible for creating the most talked about, most influential, and most far-reaching communications breakthrough since the invention of the telephone.

In the 1960's, when computers where regarded as mere gia
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 21st 1998 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1996)
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Aug 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
If you dislike publications such as People Magazine, you will not like this book.

If you believe that a history book should be well organized along either thematic or chronological lines, you will not like this book.

If you think that a book about the history of technology should include details about the evolution of that technology, you will not like this book.

If you believe that every non-fiction book deserves a good copy editor who will eliminate pointless discursions, you will not like this b
Brad Wheeler
Aug 27, 2012 rated it liked it
This book had one major problem to overcome going in: the story of the internet's origins just isn't all that interesting. It was kind of cool to see the origins of some of the networking protocols that I deal with on a day-to-day basis, and it filled in some gaps in my knowledge of computer history, but that was kind of it. There weren't many interesting personalities like in Exploding the Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell, and the chronology got weird at p ...more
Tommy /|\
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
The story of the various interlocking aspects of the internet isn't readily understood by the average user of its technologies. In fact, it would probably be safe to assume that most users believe that the origins of the internet came about in the late 1990s. Even with the often misrepresented quote from then-Presidential candidate Al Gore, the underlying technologies that comprise the internet remain a solid mystery to the typical internet denizen. "Where Wizards Stay Up Late" provides a wide-a ...more
Sara Watson
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it
The book does a great job of detailing the impetus for connecting up the country’s major university computing centers together at a time when computing resources were scarce and machines were enormous. It also follows an interesting narrative thread as different stages of connectivity were reached, as hardware configuration problems continued, and as the need for standards emerged. I especially liked the discussion about the moment when TCP/IP split to cover the packets and the routing informati ...more
Christopher Wilson
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: computer
This book was written from the perspective of the late (early?) 90s. It culminates with a party held by BBN to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first ARPA net node being switched on. Even then, there was a lot of disagreement about how and when things happened. There was jockeying for who got what credit. And particularly relevant today, to what extent was the internet a government project?

As with most things, the actual history is more complex and nuanced than any soundbite can capture. Wh
Michael Pryor
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Thorough, comprehensive, important
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5 stars, but I rounded generously. I found the beginning chapters quite exciting, but I eventually experienced information overload. There were so many people and places involved in the story, that I found it difficult to recall the importance of certain individuals and organizations. Some people, such as Paul Baran and Donald Davies (who independently discovered packet-switching), were fleshed out in sufficient detail for them and their accomplishments to be more memorable. But many ...more
Nick Black
Read first in 2003, as supplementary material to CS3251 (Networking I). Three stars worth of harmless, chipper history, and an extra star for a great title. Much better than Hafner's other well-known book, "Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier," which is to be avoided. Really good material about BBN, the IMP's (I remember quoting this book in 2008 regarding the original 56kbps AT&T leased lines between the Honeywell DDP-316s, and impressing the hell out of an older coworke ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: it, own-paper-copy, box-2
This book is Holly Grail for any computer history archaeologist. Katie Hafner provides extensive overview of the birth of the Internet: from the research chronology of the ARPA group, development journal of the government contractor -- BBN -- who basically build the ARPANET, maintenance and further usage, national and international expansion, E-mail, Request For Comments, DNS, TCP/IP vs OSI, to the sunset of ARPANET and the dawn of the NSFNET, and this is not nearly all what is covered in this b ...more
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cs, history
Nice book describing the origins of the Internet in the true sense - what initially started as a scientific experiment, turned into the wave that changed all the modern society. For such a small book it covers many points in that story (and provides a lot of references for further reading). My favorite snippet was about the first RFC document.
Adam DeConinck
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really excellent, readable history of the development of ARPANET and its evolution into (part of) the Internet. Highly recommended if you’re in the computing field and interested in its history, or if you enjoy science/engineering histories.
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.7* rounded up
Artur Coelho
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Uma intrigante visão dos primórdios da internet, contada em ritmo jornalístico. Foca-se pouco nos detalhes técnicos, preferindo olhar para o trabalho desenvolvido pelas personalidades que marcaram o desenvolvimento da internet. Começa na ARPA, mostrando com a visão de computação interconectada levou o seu primeiro impulso lá, desmontando o mito de ser um método de comunicação pensado para sobreviver a uma guerra nuclear. A visão que veio dar origem à internet foi, desde o princípio, de intercone ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
AMC’s computer tech/hot people drama “Halt and Catch Fire” is set in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s a great drama, and also set in the fascinating and generally not seen subgenre of period-piece computer tech. The soundtracks alone make the show worth watching. I love that show, and its iconic line: “Computers aren’t the thing. They’re the thing that gets you to the thing.” I’ve been online for about 25 years, and the gutsin that quote resonated deeply with me. As an artsy, quiet kid, what I loved th ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Not quite what I was looking for. I want to understand 'what is the internet', 'how does it work', 'who maintains this', etc. So I thought I'd start with a book about the earliest and simplest incarnation of the internet, which ought to explain the most essential components of the network to me.

This book isn't about that. This book is about the people. It has anecdotes about how someone met their wife or how they kept their office, but little detail about the computers. Did give me a gross overv
Kaspars Laizans
Timeline of the book is as chaotic as the Internet itself. Lots of people get introduced thoroughly for a very brief appearance before disappearing after performing some or other sort of wonder. Luckily, I'm on a tech history binge and characters are familiar from other episodes (Ma Bell, Xerox, ARPA).
Generally, helps to wrap your head around the historical points on why RFCs, where did they came from, why the network is as it is.
On the other hand, it should be more of a documentary and less o
Tasos Nikitakis
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a truly must read or anyone interested in how the internet revolution came to be. The writers did an excellent job conveying the spirit of the era while managing to keep exciting a book containing the terms (and difficult abstract concepts) packet switching, network protocls, TCP/IP, routers, IMPs..etc.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very good history of how the Internet (with a capital 'i') came to be.

While some of the terminology may go over some heads, this book is written in a way that gives non-technical readers a great story and history.

Definitely pick this book up if you were ever curious as to how you're able to read this review on your computer or phone!
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
For its huge impact, the history of the internet/arpanet sounds interesting. It sure has interesting enough bits to make it an acceptable read, but the anecdotes are rarely spectacular and it's hard to keep track of the names and relations of all the people involved. All in all is just a bit dull.
Isaac Larkin
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and instructive history of computer networking technology, from the beginning of ARPA to the dawn of the World Wide Web. Potentially useful for people interested in Free Genes, the bionet, and building an open infrastructure for biological technologies.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2017
I wanted to like this book. I like tech history. But felt like it was just another retelling of the same old story. It didn't add any meaning or really made the book about anything except a telling of facts and places not ideas. A little surprising since ARPAnet was so much about ideas.
Marcin Cylke
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Entertaining read, however consists too much politics, names and facts around US gov. agencies. This doesn't seem to me as profound as all the anecdotes and interesting technical facts about the network itself being built.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot about how the internet came about.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I felt connected to history!
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting history of the Internet. Surprisingly not many of the early pioneers are very well-known.
Stanley Costkow
An interesting history.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
really good history of how the internet came about and who made it happen
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this. It was fine. Quite enjoyed it.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Little details. Expected to get a little bit more info about core technologies.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economic-history
long time ago read. good insights how darpa was a katalyst for something that changed the world.
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Katie Hafner was on staff at The New York Times for ten years, where she remains a frequent contributor, writing on healthcare and technology. She has also worked at Newsweek and BusinessWeek, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire,Wired, The New Republic, The Huffington Post, and O The Oprah Magazine. She is the author of five previous works of nonfiction covering a diverse rang ...more
More about Katie Hafner

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“At its core, all engineering comes down to making tradeoffs between the perfect and the workable.” 2 likes
“The process of technological development is like building a cathedral,” remarked Baran years later. “Over the course of several hundred years new people come along and each lays down a block on top of the old foundations, each saying, ‘I built a cathedral.’Next month another block is placed atop the previous one. Then comes along an historian who asks, ‘Well, who built the cathedral?’ Peter added some stones here, and Paul added a few more. If you are not careful, you can con yourself into believing that you did the most important part. But the reality is that each contribution has to follow onto previous work. Everything is tied to everything else.” 1 likes
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