A blast from the past… :)
Dr. Jerry Pournelle long ago published this (but he recently linked to it…):
The only significant thing I ever did on ARPA NET was to get GPS funded. Of course that is too strong a statement; actually it was a lot more complicated than that. We don't listen to old people any more; which is a problem: Many of them know so much more than youngsters and their college professors…
What happened was that Francis X. Kane, the silent co-author of Possony and Pournelle THE STRATEGY OF TECHNOLOGY, had invented Global Positioning System while Director of Plans at USAF Systems Command, and had managed to get USAF to request and get funding. Then in the 70's Congress zeroed GPS out of the budget. Kane called me in hopes I had some resources to get it revived. I broadcast a message about that on ARPANET, and Lowell Wood, Livermore physicist and one of Teller's inner circle, saw it, sent me email to get details, got in touch with Kane, and went to Washington where he lobbied among his Congressional contacts to get it restored. It was restored and I think it would not have been done without Wood, who would not have heard about it were it not for ARPANET. GPS turns out to be important, but then we all knew it would be; the trick was convincing Congress.
That done, I had books to write and work to do. Commercial net accounts were coming, Loudon was inventing what became CompuServe after several evolutions and transformations and acquisitions, and BYTE was inventing BIX; I still held a clearance through having been President of Pepperdine Research and I still did some policy briefings for Air Force Plans and Doctrines, and so had all the communications I needed. Stallman, one of my friends from the MIT ARPANET, was done with most of his work there (I was an early beta tester of emacs, and some of my naïve observations found their way into the final product), and I found I spent most of my time on ARPANET playing ZORK, an activity for which I had no time; it was a gift of time to find that account closed. I resented the way it was done, but not enough to speak to anyone in the Pentagon about it. I see that the story still reverberates after twenty years (it all happened in CP/M S-100 days, mostly at 300 baud; 1200 was a godsend). Peace.
Pournelle has been an influence on me for 30 years or more. (I've always been aware of his non-Science Fiction interests! And he's not been shy about sharing them.)
Do any of you have heroes, mentors or just consistently sensible public figures that you fear losing?