Way back in 1986 when TCP/IP was a toddler and PDP-11 Fuzzball routers were a thing, there was a backbone network called NSFNET which connected SDSC at UCSD (San Diego), NCAR (Boulder), NCSA at UIUC (Urbana/Champaign), CTC [now CAC] at Cornell (Ithaca), PSC at CMU/UPitt/Westinghouse) (Monroeville), and JVNC (Princeton) at a smoking fast 56 kilobits per second.
Off of this backbone out in the prarie hung MIDnet, based in Lincoln, Nebraska - which was the very first NSFNET regional backbone to become fully operational. MIDnet used routers made by Proteon which were some of the first commercially available multiprotocol devices. As of June 1994, the Proteon DNX 350 had a list price of $5,090, had 8 MB of RAM, and supported Novell IPX with BGP-4 (which implies TCP/IP support though I haven't been able to confirm this explicitly) being an optional add-on. Either standalone DNX 350 or integrated into a Proteon ProNet Boss hub-router, it was available in either Ethernet or Token Ring. Proteon and the initial ProNET-10 product was the result of a contract from MIT LCS and funded by DARPA.
You can read more about MIDnet in the June 1989 Phrack article titled Introduction to MIDnet
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Last updated: Nov 03, 2021
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