Il CNR-CNUCE al battesimo della Internet Society
The CNR-CNUCE at the founding of the Internet Society
Laura Abba
  • "CNUCE, not a friendly acronym, difficult to say. In Italian there are no 'real' words that begin with "cn". The name may be harsh, but descriptive: national university centre for electronic calculation. .... Networks and space were then the final frontiers: Lenzini was sent in '73 to the Cambridge Science Centre (Massachussets) to participate in the first developments of computer networks. ... Later, in '75 I think, Trumpy went to NASA to learn the secrets of accurate calculation of satellite orbits, launch and return control and also to get his hands of lots of essential programmes to take home. We wanted to connect to that network and ... " [Gianfranco Capriz]
  • The old Centro Nazionale Universitario di Calcolo Elettronico (C.N.U.C.E.) at the university of Pisa had been for years known to many only for the aspects linked to its original function as a centre supplying resources and skills for scientific calculation.
  • When CNUCE, in November '73, became part of the state research body CNR, the question of its name was discussed and it was decided to maintain the original name (without the dots, which made it look a bit like U.N.C.L.E.) as the reputation it had earned was something it could exploit and it would provide continuity for future success.
  • At that time (early '70s) the Data Processing Division (Paolo Bronzoni) was already involved in development of technologies for data transmission and maintained contacts with manufacturers and telephone companies. Marco Sommani was taken into the Division on a study grant.
  • Next door, the Major Projects Division (Luciano Lenzini) was responsible for projects to set up a network of computers for research purposes.
  • A "network" was to be a series of independent computers, linked so that each could access the resources available to all the others.
  • The project was carried out in collaboration with the Universities of Padova and Turin, CNEN in Bologna, CSATA in Bari and the science centres IBM/Pisa and Cambridge (Massachusetts). It was here that Claudio Menchi and Fausto Caneschi, who played important roles in the evolution of network services in Italy, began their studies, under the guidance of Lenzini; they were later joined by Antonio Blasco Bonito, Daniele Vannozzi and Laura Abba.
  • But building communications systems would have made little progress simply by linking computers to transmission lines, without first establishing conventions for enabling communication (protocols). The study of communications protocols (ISO/OSI and TCP/IP) was the field of the "Lenzini gang" research group.
  • CNUCE was set up as a services centre, and research activities began immediately after it became part of CNR. In many cases this was formally recognized in the late 70s when CNUCE completed the first phase of restructuring, achieving a structure which it has maintained since then.
  • The research groups went on to win recognition and respect in their respective sectors at national and international level. Of these, the group led by Lenzini certainly made its mark on the story of network research.
  • "Our intuitive feeling was to believe in the TCP/IP protocols developed by Kahn and Cerf. Other standards and technologies proposed to connect computers in a network, in particular OSI (Open Systems Interconnection), sponsored by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, did not seem to offer the same possibilities of development and success. Luckily, we were right." [Stefano Trumpy]
  • When Trumpy became director of CNUCE [1983] and personally worked in the sector of research networks, playing key roles at national and international level, there was a marked increase in CNUCE's commitment to the sector, with highly qualified personnel attracted by the growing reputation and results achieved by the institute: it was Stefano Trumpy again who in 1991 led CNR-CNUCE to join the founders of the Internet Society.
  • "20 years on, it is thanks to IIT (Institute of Informatics and Telematics in Pisa) that CNR continues to support the activities of the Internet Society. This is all within the context of the development of Internet, which involves various aspects such as security issues, infrastructure stability and social implications related to misuse of the Net. These activities are particularly relevant both from a scientific point of view and also as opportunities for the saring of ideas among experts coming from different sectors, who find common interests and set up multidisciplinary activities. [Domenico Laforenza]"
Happy Birthday ISOC