So here’s a fun fact, which delighted old friends and new acquaintances alike at AOIR 2016: in an alternate timeline, the Internet could have been known as the Catenet. Allow me to present Exhibit A, “The Catenet Model for Internetworking”, an early Internet design document, written in 1978 by Vint Cerf (commonly known as one of the founding figures of the Internet). The term catenet was coined several years earlier by Louis Pouzin during his pioneering work developing packet-switched networking in the French CYCLADES project.1
The central problem that both Cerf and Pouzin were dealing with was how to interconnect individual computer networks into a larger whole. Pouzin considered this to be a concatenation of networks, a catenet. The term history has given us, alas, comes from the work of Cerf and others who sought to interconnect networks to form an internet. Friends, I submit to you that we should reclaim our proud past, and henceforth speak only of the Catenet!
Incidentally, this is also why I insist on capitalizing the “I” in Internet, to the consternation of my colleagues engaging in Internet research. The Internet is simply the largest instance of an internet, currently composed of over 55,000 interconnected (or should I say, concatenated?) computer networks. If you’re interested, you can find the latest number of networks (known as “autonomous systems”) visible in the Internet’s routing tables under the entry “Number of ASes in routing system” in the CIDR Report. And for those now imagining felines frolicking with frothy alcoholic drinks: CIDR has nothing to do with cider, honest!