What is MIDnet?

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[1] - which was the very first NSFNET regional backbone to become fully operational.

MIDnet started life as a university research network at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and connected eleven land-grant universities across the Great Plains to the broader NSFNET:

One of the founders of MIDnet was Doug Gale who "spearheaded the grant" for the creation of the network. Gale was also instrumental to the development of Internet2.

MIDnet used routers made by Proteon -- 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


AS16970 (sadly, not AS93. NTT, please let us know if you are ever amenable to a transfer for historical reasons!)
[1] We like Runzas and may even accept them as online payment eventually.
Last updated: Dec 20, 2022