An op-ed piece in today’s New York Times notes the birth of the Internet’s first Request for Comments, the then-informal process for proposing ideas, big and small, about the Internet’s workings. We talk of how the original Internet’s open architecture eventually enabled and propelled its explosive growth; Stephen D. Crocker, the op-ed’s author, wrote R.F.C. 1. He explains what was meant by “rough consensus and running code:” “[e]veryone was welcome to propose ideas, and if enough people liked it and used, the design became a standard.” After noting that they avoided patents and the desire for control comes with financial incentives he says “we always tried to design each new protocol to be both useful in its own right and a building block available to others . . . we deliberately exposed the internal architecture to make it easy for others to gain a foothold.” (emphasis original)
They couldn’t know how successful they would be.