European Computer Networking Oral Histories
Charles Babbage Institute

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European Computer Networking

Oral Histories

Andrew Russell, past CBI Tomash fellow and current Stevens Institute of Technology assistant professor in the College of Arts and Letters, launched a 2012 oral history project entitled “European Contributions to Computer Networks.”  The project, funded by the Association for Computing Machinery History Committee, resulted in nine oral histories conducted by Russell with French networking pioneers.  The first eight—Tilly Bayard-Richard, Najah Naffah, Louis Pouzin, Marc E. Levilion, Michel Gien, Jean-Louis Grangé, Gérard Le Lann, and Rémi Després—are now available online from CBI on the University of Minnesota’s Digital Conservancy.  Russell’s interview with André Danthine will soon be added to the others on the Conservancy. 

Gérard Le Lann, Jean-Louis Grangé, Michel Gien, Najah Naffah, Louis Pouzin, and Andrew Russell
Oral hisory participants with Andy Russell

The Louis Pouzin oral history (and several others in this series) richly details the origin, development, and deployment of the CYCLADES network in the early to mid-1970s.  Sponsored by the Institut de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique (IRIA) and directed by Louis Pouzin, this influential “datagram” packet-switching computer network provided an alternative to ARPANET and was a test bed for networking research and experimentation. These interviews also explore the interactions of French, British, and American networking researchers, as well as the politics behind the ultimate demise of CYCLADES at the end of the 1970s. 

Russell’s interview with Després highlights the Transpac network and the birth of the X.25 recommendation at CCITT in 1976, while his interview with Tilly Bayard-Richard addresses the work and leadership of ISO committees creating standards for Open System Interconnection (OSI), as well as gender and the European networking research community.  Ultimately this set of oral histories provides an infrastructure for fuller understanding of French and European computer networking research and standard setting work of the 1970s and 1980s.  They richly complement CBI’s many oral histories on developments in the U.S. with the ARPANET and internet.  We are grateful to Andy for donating these valuable oral histories to CBI.

Jeffrey R. Yost

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