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In the Shadow of ARPANET and Internet: Louis Pouzin and the Cyclades Network in the 1970s
Abstract

Abstract:

During the 1970s, French engineer Louis Pouzin led a small team of researchers who designed an experimental packet-switching computer network they named “Cyclades.” Despite the technical successes of Cyclades—especially Pouzin’s “datagram” concept that was adopted by the American networking researchers Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn—the French authorities starved Cyclades by 1979 and split up Pouzin and his team. This article describes the opportunities that the Cyclades group pursued and the obstacles it encountered in its efforts to cooperate with peers in the United States, France, and Europe. Rather than squeezing Pouzin and Cyclades into a teleological narrative that seeks only to explain the rise of the Internet, the article suggests that its broader rubric of “networking history” allows historians to recover the political and human complexities of digital convergence—such as the bold words and disruptive work of Louis Pouzin.