Michael A. Padlipsky (1939-2011)

Michael A. Padlipsky: A Bibliography

Michael Padlipsky (MAP or Mike to his friends) is one of the Old Network Boys of the Internet formerly known as the [D]ARPANet. (He also coined the phrase Old Network Boy to refer to his aging cronies.) This page is a partial bibliographic catalog of his writings including his Book, the original papers on which it was based, his other contributions to networking and operating systems history at Project MAC: MIT Multics, Mike is quoted both seriously and for humo[u]r. Mike was on the early Internet Web distinguished in part to the number of times his name appears in the anchor of a(n) URL. (Yes, someone did a study of the "Frequency and Length of WWW Links" [Error 500, no archive :-/]).

Up to MAP Home

© 1996, 2000, 2011, 2021 by William D Ricker d/b/a The Literary Estate of M.A.Padlipsky

Table of Contents

The Book

Mike Padlipsky's book The Elements of Networking Style (& Other Essays & Animadversions of the Art of Intercomputer Networking) (Originally published as Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-132-68129-3 hc, LC TK5105.5.P34 1985, now back in print with the BackInPrint program as ISBN 0-595-08879-1, $19.95) is an elaboration of a number of Internet RFCs (known informally as The Teabag Papers, below) and other old technical working papers in MAP's inimitable "constructive snottiness" style. Decades ago, this book predicted that the free market would choose TCP/IP over the ISO/OSI protocol set, in spite of global government "standardization" because it was (a) available and (b) better (as measured by "technicoaesthetic criticism"). At the time, this was considered heresy (and rather sarcastic heresy); TCP/IP was considered a staging mechanism for the rollout of ISO-OSI-RM compliant protocols. The book was listed in the Unofficial Internet Book List (1993-1997) [archived].

If you like these RFC's, you will love the book, which includes cartoon illustrations (by David "Omar" White and John Bean) and slogans "suitable for framing". It is the result of making an MIT Humanities major the systems programmer for Multics for DARPANet integration: a literary look at the technological history of the information super-highway.

(The original of the title piece, Elements, is however not an RFC and thus you'll need to buy or borrow the book to get the full flavor; the Prefatory Afterthoughts applied to the articles that are indexed here, the appendices ( "Two introductions that were too good to waste" which includes"Standards: Threat or Menace?"; and "The Arouet Papers" which include "Empirical Heresy Considered Threatening", "ISORM considered Threatening" ,"Standards Committeemen Considered Dangerous" and "An Alternative encoding of '42' or The Ultimate Answer") and the rest of the package are worth it too. But then, I am partial: I introduced Mike to the Editor who bought the concept for the Book.) See also the Rededication below regarding Old Network Boys.

The Tea-Bag Papers, 1982

The original private-circulation edition of these technical papers came with a coverpage with photocopied Salada tea-bag-tag-lines, hence the sobriquet.

Adding introductions and after-thoughts to these five made the backbone of The Book above.

These and more recent RFCs are mirrored at IETF and at http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/ and RFC-Editor.org. Many other nodes have RFC repositories too. This particular set [were] included at [Archive of] UK IPv6 Resource Centre Lancaster University Computing Department.

RFC871 also appeared in Proceedings of IEEE INFOCOM '83, San Diego, CA, IEEE, New York, 1983, pp242-253.

Other Technical Writings

(Somewhat More) Recent Writings

Mike's other, perhaps less funny although no less in earnest, credits include :

Mike's other, less technical but still "constructively snotty" letters to the editor etc. can be found at his personal web page [2010 archive].
( Your humble editor may select some of lasting interest for elsewhere on this site? Later writings were frequently defending "Nico-pariahs" as an ADA-protected class.)

Old Network Boy (Earlier Writings)

Button, I survived the TCP Transition 1/1/83

Mike's contributions to the Net, in addition to connecting Multics as one of the first half-dozen original hosts on the DARPANet [2005 archive] (back before they Dropped The D which was even earlier than when they switched from NCP to TCP and added the Inter- to the Net, which necessitated IP as well) for which he implemented Multics Telnet, and designing the FTP protocol, and one or two generations of Mail and generally kibitzing on NCP, TCP, and IP protocols, can be traced in:

  1. Privately Circulated
      Ritual for Catharsis #1. which speaks of a singular "Big Bad Neighbor" and delivering coal one lump at a time, whilst riffing on RFC001.
      This was privately circulated so may be in paper files only at this point?
      If you find a copy, please alert the Literary Estate.

  2. RFCs, early
    • RFC282: M. Padlipsky, "Graphics meeting report", 12/08/1971. (Pages=8)
    • RFC411: M. Padlipsky, "New MULTICS network software features", 11/14/1972. (Pages=1)
    • RFC450: M. Padlipsky, "MULTICS sampling timeout change", 02/08/1973. (Pages=1)
    • RFC451: M. Padlipsky, "Tentative proposal for a Unified User Level Protocol", 02/22/1973. (Pages=3)
    • RFC491: M. Padlipsky, "What is "Free"?", 04/12/1973. (Pages=2)
    • RFC491: M. Padlipsky, "What is "Free"?", 04/12/1973. (Pages=2)
    • RFC505: M. Padlipsky, "Two solutions to a file transfer access problem", June 1973
    • RFC506: M. Padlipsky, "FTP command naming problem", 06/26/1973. (Pages=1)
    • RFC531: M. Padlipsky, "Feast or famine? A response to two recent RFC's about network information", 06/26/1973. (Pages=2)
    • RFC569: H: M. Padlipsky, "NETED: A common editor for the ARPA network", 10/15/1973. (Pages=7) (H=historical marker?)
    • RFC590: M. Padlipsky, "MULTICS address change", 11/19/1973. (Pages=1)
    • RFC647: M. Padlipsky, "Proposed protocol for connecting host computers to ARPA-like networks via front end processors", 11/12/1974. (Pages=20)
    • RFC666: M. Padlipsky, "Specification of the Unified User-Level Protocol", 11/26/1974. (Pages=17) (great number!)

  3. Conference papers and other official reports

Other Old Network Boys ... or Networking Networking

A little known fact is that Dennis Ritchie (1941-2011), co-progenitor of Unix, was Mike's (junior) officemate at MIT Project Mac (Multics ) until Bell Labs pulled out of the project (and thus forced Dennis and Ken to build his castrated system on the oh-dark-hundred project in a skunkworks closet in New Jersey). Another better known but not as well known as it might be is that both PR1ME Computer and Stratus were formed by ex-Multicians in the image of Multics, as were the NCSA Orange Book security requirements. Most recent advances in operating systems were first developed for Multics but not immediately implemented elsewhere and forgotten, and later when found necessary, either reinvented the hardway, or cribbed from Multics. Other Multics trivia and not so trivial info can be found in a ?dormant? newsgroup for Multicians and the Multicians.Org homepage and mailing list. Mike had also contributed to MIT's TimeSharing projects (CTSS) before Multics on a IBM 7094 - from which Multics was initially supported until bootstrapping was completed. (E.g., PSN#55 What we learned - or should have learned from the Hardware Transient Hunt). Mike contributed to and served as editor of the Multics Systems Programmers Manual (page 1 ), and the planning for the MPM.

(Further trivia: The C in CTSS stands for Compatible — interactive time-sharing being compatible with co-hosted batch processing, an advantage for research computation, but not for programming research — against which the LCS ITS system's I for Incompatible was a reaction and parody. Unix the castrated or singular form of Multics was not the first reactionary pun!)

The surviving builders of the (D)ARPAnet & Internet and the historians who study them hang out on the Internet History mailing list care of the Postel Center at SRI, which is named in memory of Jon Postel (1943-1998), the original RFC Editor, to whom Mike rededicated the reprint of The Book.

Reprint Edition Rededication

and as text ...
Reprint Edition Rededication

This resurrection of my only child is

In anguished memory of the loss of Jon Postel

He was archly called the God of the Internet.
The elegant disproof of that (unless you're a Manichean):
Jon was not malevolent, yet ISO exists.
He was, however, eminently arguably the Internet's Saint &em;
Certainly a "secular saint", if the term has any meaning at all;
And if you're old-fashioned enough to expect a miracle,
Well, ecce, the 'Net exists...

The Quotable Padlipsky

Web-hits for Padlipsky had been almost 100% Mike, mostly RFC references/copies or Scotch notes, and can be found with your favorite search engine. [ Your humble editor used to recommend AltaVista here. ] References in the old Usenet can still be found via DejaNews . AFAIK the 21stC physician of same surname would at best be a distant relation?

Laws and Corollaries - see MAP-phorisms

and then there's the Pun of the Year, 1986, which occurred in a network engineering / scotch cross-over setting. The other Puns of the Year appear in the Literary section.

Padlipsky's Corollary to Sturgeon's Law, an anecdote with Ted Sturgeon about that, and Padlipsky's Law are covered in the Literary section

Various Usenet/Unix Quotes/Fortune files and other works reference Padlipsky:

[B]eware of the panacea peddlers: just because you wind up naked doesn't make you an emperor. -- Michael A Padlipsky

Every site is unique, and every network will have a different design. Or, as Michael Padlipsky has observed, "Optimality differs according to context." [op cit.] A smaller campus with fewer buildings and computers will have a different overall network architecture than UTnet. However, a common element that occurs in every successful network architecture is the establishment of a network hierarchy. UTexas UTnet [archived]

As M. A. Padlipsky has pointed out in criticism of other aspects of ISO negotiation, the national PTT organizations (which understandably think in terms primarily of sequential-by-character streams of information) seem to have an overwhelming voice in drowning out the protests of computer types who would like to be able to use arbitrary array addresses to access any part of a text file without having to read it through from the beginning every time to make sure that the array index doesn't just happen to land in the middle of a multiple octet sequence.
-- "4.1075 Greek and Unicode (1/104)", Pierre MacKay, 1991; on Humanist Discussion Group list, which was then edited by Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)

[T]here are no public domain ODA systems, no publicly available "kernels" or parser kits that help you build applications on top of it, no newsgroup for it, no FTP sites, no nothing. I know of no trade rags for ODA, there is very little, if any, coverage of it in the major trade rags, and those who talk about it make me think of Michael Padlipsky, who in 1985 said about OSI: "oversold, underdesigned, & years from here." (M. A. Padlipsky: The Elements of Networking Style (and other essays & animadversions on the Art of Intercomputer Networking); Prentice Hall, 1985. ISBN 0-13-268111-0.)
-- re Looking for Office/Open Document Architecture - ISO 8613 [404]

Some academics, such as Padlipsky, have argued that the OSI is excessively complex, and that the ARM developed in Cambridge, was a more suitable model. However, most modern communications systems other than the Internet (A large exception) are moving toward compliance with OSI.
-- INT 2060 at Middlesex U[archived 2001]

But is there anything outside the Internet anymore? :-)

I like Mike's statement, which I'll paraphrase

"If you know what you're doing, 3 layers is enough; if you don't, 17 layers won't help you."

Academic? I don't think that's fair; in his day, seating on the NWG's was limited to working systems programs, no marketing wonks need apply. See the next quote. Also, there are a lot of systems that issue diagrams demonstrating conformance to ISO OSI RM, which doesn't mean there's actual conformance!
-- wdr, Ed.

On Networking Architecture
``Do you want protocols that look nice or protocols that work nice?''
-- Mike Padlipsky, Internet architect
-- Quote file

Mike is quite the primary source himself. It seems he may have had as much to do with inventing networked electronic mail back around 1972 as Ray Tomlinson did, not to mention Mike invented anonymous FTP.
-- John Quarterman on Mike and Network History at USENIX

Brace yourselves. We're about to try something that borders on the unique: an actually rather serious technical book which is not only (gasp) vehemently anti-Solemn, but also (shudder) takes sides. I tend to think of it as `Constructive Snottiness.'
-- Mike Padlipsky, Foreword to "Elements of Networking Style"

Padlipsky's corollary to Murphy's law: Every silver lining has a cloud around it.
-- Phrases of Humour and Wisdom[specific monthly page archive, August 2000]

Risks Digest #1.16 on SDI and SAGE

Nature of the Design Process quoted in Supercommentary on IETF

Up to MAP HomeFeedback

Contents of this page are drawn largely from the public record; the remainder and current collected form are Copyright © 1996,2000, 2011, 2021 by William D Ricker d/b/a The Literary Estate of M.A.Padlipsky since 2011.