ESnet: 30 Years of Networking at the Speed of Science

Thirty years ago, the idea of a unified network that allowed people to easily connect with colleagues, facilities and data centers was still a dream. At the time, networking was confined to specialized networks created to service targeted research communities. One of those pioneers is the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Sciences Network, better known as ESnet. Officially created in 1986, ESnet’s roots stretch back to the mid-1970s, when staff at the CTR Computer Center at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory installed four acoustic modems on a borrowed Control Data Corp. 6600 computer. The center was soon renamed the National Magnetic Fusion Energy Computer Center and the network was known as MFEnet. By 1977, MFEnet connected users in 13 states with the center. Since those days, the network now known as ESnet has marked many milestones and is today one of the world’s premier networks supporting science research around the globe. During its three decades, ESnet has also developed and deployed a number of tools and technologies to advance the state of networking and become a leading contributor to the international networking community.

1977-03-23 00:00:00

On the Origins of MFEnet

To allow fusion researchers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab in New Jersey to access the Magnetic Fusion Energy Computer Center in California, MFEnet is created -- the forerunner of ESnet.

1980-09-15 00:00:00

Satellite Links Replace Landlines

American Satellite Corp. is selected by MFEnet to replace unreliable landlines used by researchers to connect with NERSC (then called NMFECC). The new satellite links go on line in 1981, providing connections to the computing center.

1982-09-30 00:00:00

Logon Reach Extended

MFEnet now allows log on from any terminal to any NMFECC main computer.

1982-12-30 00:00:00

MIT, Three More Sites Added to Network

MIT is among three sites added to the center network. Universities accounted for 27 percent of NMFECC’s computing resource users. The major users — Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge national laboratories, General Atomics and Princeton Plasma Physics Lab — used 64 percent of the resources, with the remainder going to other labs.

1984-07-01 00:00:00

MFEnet Connects 3,000 Users

MFEnet connects 3,000 users to the center’s computers and file systems, courtesy of two large satellite dishes outside the facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

1985-07-01 00:00:00

Direct Links to Japan

Direct links for moving data are established with the Japanese Plasma Physics Institute in Nagoya.

1985-09-01 00:00:00

138 Customer Sites Served

By 1985, MFEnet serves 138 sites with network traffic averaging more than 300 million characters of data per day.

1985-10-01 00:00:00

ESnet Proposed

Dr. Alvin Trivelpiece, head of DOE’s Office of Energy Research, recommends MFEnet be combined with HEPnet, a network supporting High Energy Physics research, to become ESnet.

1986-10-07 00:00:00

ESnet is Officially Launched

A formal proposal for creating the Energy Sciences Network is approved and ESnet is released. Responsibility for operating the new network is assigned to NMEFCC. Jim Leighton is named head of ESnet.

1986-11-08 22:59:36

Workshop on Future of Intersite Networking

A two-day workshop at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory focuses on “The Future of Intersite Networking,” including the role of commercial networks and consolidating existing networks.

ESnet: 30 Years of Networking at the Speed of Science

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