Voice Card  -  Volume 16  -  Paul Card Number 2  -  Sat, Aug 4, 1990 8:35 PM

This is a response to Vol 15 Drury 2 ("These darn computers!")...

Well, you DO have eagle-eyes.

Would you believe the bathroom?

Actually, my company subscribes to several on-line services which extract and summarize articles of interest to the computer industry and to business in general. These articles come from dozens (hundreds?) of magazines and news services, mostly American. Also, other Digital employees will type in interesting articles and pass them around our company's computer network. Also, we have our own small computer-readable newspaper, published five days a week. That article came from one of the above sources.

I get a lot more mail these days across the computer than any other way. And yes, junk mail is a problem on computer networks, too. In fact, it's a BIGGER problem than with ordinary mail, because the cost of sending a computer message is tiny relative to the cost of physical mail (no stamp to buy, for one thing).

For those of you who are interested: network architecture is currently one of the gating factors in building a truly accessible world-wide computer network. Digital has the largest private network in the world, with over 50,000 computers and 100,000 subscribers - and we're squeezing our architectural limits. The now-emerging standard for networks is OSI ( Open Systems Interconnect); I believe its architectural limit is a few BILLION networked computers. As vendors migrate their networking software to OSI compliance, it will be truly possible for the first time to connect computers around the world in a fashion exactly analogous to the way we connect telephones - and the phone companies may do the connecting. This is all more than a little bit scary, by the way.

Are you still with me? Sorry you asked? Well, there's more: I predict that as network software and hardware evolve, these issues will touch the lives of ALL Archipelagans. The question is not "If?", it's "When?". Imagine an Archipelago without floppy disks and mailers - where each new Voice Card becomes "instantly" available to all members. Voice Card conversations may not be "real-time", but they will span days or weeks rather than months or years.

When will all this happen? Some time during the next decade. Certainly John and I will have our Macs talking to each other in the next four or five years. Because of a long "to-do" list, Archipelago integration may take a bit longer. Do you think you'll stick around for all this? I know I will.