Other Networking in South Africa

From ZaInternetHistory

Lest anyone get the wrong impression, there were other networking activities in South Africa at the time. The ones that are of interest and relevance are those that interconnected different independent organisations, because this required a completely different approach to networking compared to the situation where one person or group controlled all of the computers that interconnected (eg in the case of a network of a bank, or of the government).

The Fidonet network has already been mentioned. Regrettably, Mike Lawrie does not know of the date when this network started, nor its history or extent.

One such network, which used the UUCP, protocol was called SANET, pronounced "essay-net". There was a bit of dispute over the ownership of that name, somehow this sorted itself out. This network also connected, via dialup, to the home of Randy Bush in Portland, Oregon. The author is uncertain of the timescales, but believes that this was after the UUCP to Rhodes had been operating for some months (ie in or after 1990). Further information on this network would be welcomed.

In September 1988, the FRD set about establishing a facility whereby the administration of grant funding could be done online. The concept was to have a microVax hold a database of the grant information for FRD-funded researchers, and that the various universities would be linked into this system via network technologies of X.25 or the CSIR's asynchronous network. It was also suggested that there could be links with NetLAN boxes and/or via IBM 3270 terminals connected by ways still to be defined. The author was involved with the service at the Rhodes University end, which was always problematic (for one thing, the system did not cater at all well for terminals that were not made by DEC). What is remarkable about this approach is that it did not dovetail into the Uninet design.

Hopefully, this history of the Internet will inspire others to publish similar stories about these networks.