BITNET was a cooperative U.S. university network founded by
IBMin 1979under the aegis of Ira Fuchsat the City University of New York(CUNY) and Greydon Freeman at Yale University. The first network link was between CUNY and Yale.
The requirements for a college or university to join BITNET were simple:
* Lease a data circuit (
phone line) from a site to an existing BITNET node.
modems for each end of the data circuit, sending one to the connecting point site.
* Allow other institutions to connect to a site without chargeback.
From a technical point of view, BITNET differed from the
Internetin that it was a point-to-point " store and forward" network. That is, Usenet.
BITNET came to mean "Because It's Time Network", although the original meaning was "Because It's There Network".
Bitnet's NJE (Network Job Entry)
network protocols, called RSCS, were used for the huge IBMinternal network known as VNET. BITNET links originally ran at 9600 baud. The BITNET protocols were eventually ported to non-IBM mainframe operating systems, and became particularly widely implemented under VAX/VMSin addition to DECnet.
At its zenith around
1991, BITNET extended to almost 500 organizations and 3,000 nodes, all educational institutions. It spanned North America (in Canada it was known as NetNorth), Europe (as EARN) and some Persian Gulfstates (as GulfNet). With the advent of TCP/IP systems and the Internet in the early 1990s, BITNET's popularity and use diminished quickly. Gateways existed on the ARPAnet and growing Internet to exchange email with Bitnet.
The non-profit, educational policies, however well intended, limited exchange with commercial entities, including IBM itself when it came to assistance and software bug fixes. This became a particular problem in heterogeneous networks when trying to communicate assistance with graphical workstation vendors like
LISTSERVsoftware, but predated the World Wide Web, FTP and Gopher. It also supported interactive sending of files and messages to other users. The "Interchat Relay Network", popularly known as Bitnet Relay, was created with the network's instant messagingfeature. BITNET's first electronic magazine, VM/COM, began as a University of Mainenewsletter and surfaced broadly in early 1984. Two email newsletters that began as Bitnet newsletters in the fall of 1987 are known to still be transmitting. They are the Electronic Air and SCUP Email News, formerly SCUP Bitnet News. The collaborative fiction ezine, DargonZine, which started life on BITNET as Fantasy and Science-Fiction on the Internet (FSFnet) continues to publish to this day.
In 1996, CREN ended their support for Bitnet. The individual nodes were free to keep their phone lines up as long as they wished, but as nodes dropped out, the network splintered into parts that were inaccessible from each other. As of 2007, BITNET has essentially ceased operation. However, a successor,
BITNET II, which transmits information via the Internet using BITNET protocols, still has some users.
Christmas Tree EXEC
History of the Internet
* [http://csdl.computer.org/comp/mags/an/2000/02/a2032abs.htm A Social History of Bitnet and Listserv, 1985–1991]
* [http://livinginternet.com/u/ui_bitnet.htm Living Internet - BITNET]
* [http://nethistory.dumbentia.com NetHistory - Archive of BITNET newsletters and stories]
* [http://listserv.uh.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9101&L=pacs-l&D=0&F=P&T=0&P=7954 BITNET II] , PACS-L, 1991.
* [http://dargonzine.org DargonZine] - link to DargonZine homepage
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