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 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:
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
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Last updated: Dec 20, 2022