Patrice Riemens on Fri, 8 Dec 2006 00:36:38 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Louis Pouzin, "the (French)man who did not invent the Internet" ...

Last summer, there was an interesting article in Le Monde about yet
another bizare quirk in that strange French technoligico-political nexus.
State-financed and state-directed tech R&D did give the French the
Minitel, Concorde, and the TGV, all of them a bit old-fashioned or
altogether outdated by now, but which were precursors in their time. But
it also scuttled great ideas and inventions, when they failed to resonate
with the tech-burocrats' agenda - or understanding.

Louis Pouzin, an engineer and product of the Ecole Polytechnique, that
ueber-elite institution, developed the 'Cyclades' network between 1971 and
1975, after having been sent to the USA to sniff at Arpanet. He invented
there the concept of 'datagrams', packets actually - the core of a
decentralised network. Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf used his ideas when
developing 'their' Internet and especially TCP/IP, but the
telecom-dominated French tech-establishment was extremely hostile to it.
Cyclades linked a few research institutions and died out in 1978 due to
lack of political support. Le Monde assigns the blame to Valery Giscard
d'Estaing (easily France's most blamed president) who inaugurated a
research policy away from state-run  projects and entireley geared towards
the wishes and requirements of the major (private) industrial lobbies.

However, Louis Pouzin, bearing remarkably little grudge for what other
would have taken for a major slight, has now embarked on a new scheme:
multilingualism in network management, which he calls the Trojan Horse to
end the domination of the English language - think especially of the DNS
system. China, India and Brazil have already lend a favourable ear...

two earlier posts by Ronda Hauben where Louis Pouzin's under-aknowledged
contribution to the development of Internet is mentionned:

A transcript of the full Le Monde article (in French) is here:
(major lay-out hick-up however, easiest to copy-paste in a txt docu)

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: