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Regarding your article "Pioneers of the Internet" (September 2000): I thought you might be interested in knowing about the role played by several Rensselaer alumni in building the NSFnet.

As you may know, the NSFnet was the principal backbone of the Internet between 1988 and 1995 and, as others have put it, it was "the main catalyst for the worldwide explosion in computer networking that took place in the 1980s and '90s."

The NSFnet was built under contract for the National Science Foundation by IBM, MCI, and Merit. IBM was responsible for developing the hardware and software for the high-speed routers used in the NSFnet backbone.

I was the lead engineer and then manager of the group in IBM responsible for this work. Paul Bosco '83, John Leddy '85, Rich Woundy '95, and Marc Cochran '86 were other key contributors.

By every measure the project was an outstanding success. We increased the speed of the Internet backbone from 56 kilobits to 1.5 megabits and then to 45 megabits, and by the time the project ended, the NSFnet connected to approximately 50,000,000 users on 50,000 networks in 93 countries, which far exceeded the goals expressed in the project solicitation (10,000 users on 200 networks).

As FARNET, the Federation of American Research Networks, said in a letter to the NSFnet partnership: "We have seldom seen a major networking project come off so smoothly, and never one of such magnitude."

And of course today's Internet is a direct result of the NSFnet.

Rick Boivie '71
Hawthorne, N.Y.

I enjoyed reading "Pioneers of the Internet," but was especially delighted to discover both news and a photograph of Richard Mandelbaum '65. During our first year at RPI, Richard ("Richie" to us then) occupied the room adjoining mine on the second floor of Crockett Hall and was, without question, one of the most intelligent individuals I have ever met. In his first few weeks at school, Richard passed advanced placement exams granting him credit for roughly two years of study at RPI. This accounts for the fact that he is a member of the Class of '65 while I am a member of the Class of '68.

What I remember about Richard was his nimble ability to solve physics problems that stumped the rest of us and the occasional illicit kosher salami hanging in his dorm room, but mostly I remember that when his funds were running low late in the spring term, he raised money by selling shares in his future Nobel Prize. Few of us doubted that Richard would someday win a Nobel Prize, and I was among the many who made a $5 investment.

Please tell Richard I remain as confident as ever that my investment will someday yield a re-turn and I'd be happy to accept payment in terms of free Internet access.

Mark Wolski '68
Waitsfield, Vt.

I just received my magazine and found it very interesting, particularly "Pioneers of the Internet." I went to the Web site looking for an electronic copy to share with my blind and low-vision friends and was glad to see that the magazine is available electronically.

Many blind people use screen readers or Braille devices (access technology) to interface with their computers. Recent advances in access and computer technology in the past 10 to 15 years have provided these people with significantly greater access to information and job opportunities. It might surprise many people to know that Internal Revenue Service Agents, telephone operators, computer programmers, and music composers are just a few of the blind people able to work as a result of these developments.

Since retiring, I've recently started teaching computer technology to low-vision people for the Texas Commission for the Blind. The first student I taught was a young woman who is totally deaf and has only 10 percent vision in one eye. She completed her first year in college this year carrying a full course load with three As and two Bs.

Philip Hartenstein '64
Houston, Texas

"Fifty Years of the Houston Field House" in the June 2000 issue was truly exciting for me. In 1949 we lived in Tin Town our freshman year up behind the Field House. In addition to all the wonderful events mentioned by the other alumni, the musical events in the Field House have left an indelible mark on my life.

Rensselaer of course was not a music school but Professor Joel Dolven, director of music at that time, managed to inspire many engineers to continue their music appreciation and music education. Some of this education included fairly sophisticated concerts in the Field House including joint programs with other institutions like Russell Sage. In April 1953 I played solo clarinet with the RPI Orchestra in "Concertino" by Carl Maria von Weber.

I have enclosed a sample of the original stagebill. Please note on the back page the advertisement for upcoming events like Benny Goodman (his original band and trio) and Louis Armstrong! This is just a sample of the wonderful musical events that took place in the Field House in those early years.

Joseph Terenzi '53
Franklin Lakes, N.J.

We'd love to hear from you! In order to provide space for as many letters as possible, we often must edit them for length. Please address correspondence to: Rensselaer Magazine, Office of Marketing and Media Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180, or e-mail to, or call (518) 276-6531.


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