Milestone-Proposal:ALOHANET (aka ALOHA System)
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This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone
To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No
Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes
Was it of at least regional importance? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
1966 - 1971. Activated June 1971
Title of the proposed milestone:
ALOHAnet (aka ALOHA System): Communications Foundation for Wireless, Mobile, Satellite, and Internet – June 1971
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
On this site, ALOHANET (aka ALOHA System), the first public demonstration of a wireless packet data network and random access protocols are activated. Established communications foundation for Ethernet, satellite, mobile, wireless and the Internet.
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
IEEE Hawaii Section
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
Unit: IEEE Hawaii Section
Senior Officer Name: Kishore Erukulapati
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
Unit: IEEE Hawaii Section
Senior Officer Name: Kishore Erukulapati
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
IEEE Section: IEEE Hawaii Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Kishore Erukulapati
Proposer name: John Imperial
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public
Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
2540 Dole Street, Holmes Hall, Honolulu, Hawaii 9682221.29681 N, 157.81657 W
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. Intended site of the milestone plaque is where ALOHANET (aka ALOHA System) was developed, invented, tested, and demonstrated.First public demonstration of a wireless packet network and random access protocols was activated on June 1971.Site is the University of Hawaii College of Engineering - Holmes Hall
Are the original buildings extant?
Details of the plaque mounting:
Exact location is to be yet to be determined. Milestone plaque will be mounted on the outside of the concrete building, ground floor.
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
Holmes Hall is the College of Engineering Building on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus and provides unobstructed access to general public
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
University of Hawaii
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?
The ALOHANET (aka ALOHA System) laid the communications foundation for mobile, wireless, satellite, and Internet as we know it today. Technologically: 1. Demonstrated general principles about the relationship between information theory and the design of real information systems. 2. It was the first wireless radio packet-based communications system. 3. Operational in June 1971; the first public demonstration of a wireless packet data network. 4. Referenced as foundation for the Ethernet protocol [Bob Metcalfe's 1973 Ethernet memo describes a networking system based on an earlier experiment in networking called the Aloha network.]
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
The ALOHA Protocol is the communications foundation for a variety of applications involving joint use of a given medium by potentially interfering systems, and laid the foundation for mobile, wireless, satellite, and Internet communications as we know it today. The protocol, in its most concise form, says transmit at will. If interference is detected, retransmit some random time later. What can be simpler? Yet, despite its apparent simplicity, such a protocol was not at all obvious at the time of its invention and initial deployment. TECHNICAL The basic idea was radio communications – as an alternative to telephones. Radio communications is a broadcast medium and allows things to be performed via multiple access. As Dr. Norman Abramson stated, “Well, we don't have to be limited to one channel per user. We could do some more efficient things with radio." "Something much more sensible for radio can be done here than assigning a single channel for every user in the network. That's crazy. That won't work." "Look, we can't assign one channel per user. We want to think about -- although we may never build it - - we want to think about a system with hundreds of users, something practical for that. You can't have hundreds of channels. Now what can you do for that situation?" I and others were aware of the spread spectrum and multiple access through spread spectrum at that point, and the idea of simply transmitting the data in bursts was sort of a natural one. The telephone system, especially then in Hawaii, was inadequate for data and appeared not to make sense at that time. ALOHAnet became operational in June,1971, providing the first public demonstration of a wireless packet data network. POLITICAL In 1966, when Dr. Norman Abramson came to the University of Hawaii, there was very little research activity, much less funded-research activity. Dr. Norman Abramson got the University of Hawaii funded under Project THEMIS – a Department of Defense program to support developing, second-rank or have-not universities with research funds. At this point in time, Project THEMIS provided the largest amount of research project funds that the University of Hawaii had ever received to fund the ALOHA System. One of the reasons was certainly that -- my impression, and I think this was common in a lot of people, was that to do something different with radio communications means that sooner or later, you're going to have to fight the FCC, and I didn't want to do that. I was faculty, a professor, and I truly felt I had no capability in that kind of area and I wouldn't do very well at it, so I really couldn't see myself as trying to shake up the FCC and have them change their rules. That meant that I was thinking of operating under the existing rules, and Aloha wouldn't allow you to operate under existing rules. As a research project, it was quite interesting, but to look further to operational and commercial systems GEOGRAPHIC The goal was to use low-cost commercial radio equipment to connect users on Oahu and the other Hawaiian Islands with a central time-sharing computer on the main Oahu campus.
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
ALOHANET was the first public demonstration of a wireless radio packet-based communications system utilizing a random-access protocol (pure ALOHA)
Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.
N. Abramson, "Development of the ALOHANET," in IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 119-123, March 1985.�doi: 10.1109/TIT.1985.1057021 M. Schwartz and N. Abramson, "The Alohanet - surfing for wireless data [History of Communications]," in IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 47, no. 12, pp. 21-25, Dec. 2009.�doi: 10.1109/MCOM.2009.5350363 Abramson, N. 1982. "Fundamentals of Packet Multiple Access for Satellite Networks," IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications 10(2):309-316. Entrepreneurial Capitalism & Innovation: �A History of Computer Communications �1968 - 1988�By James Pelkey https://www.computer.org/csdl/proceedings/afips/1975/5083/00/50830203.pdf
Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.
Computer History Museum Interview of Norman “Norm” Abramson Interviewed by: James L. Pelkey Recorded: October 13, 1988 Menlo Park, California http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/access/text/2013/05/102746645-05-01-acc.pdf
Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to email@example.com with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).