Monday, June 14, 2010

The Story of Ping - Internet Network Command

npg sent this to me which I thought was a great historical background on the network ping command.  Beth Groundwater is professional writer (novelist) as well as Neil's wife. (not sure if order matters here or not :-)    Beth writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series for Five Star Publishing and the Rocky Mountain Adventures mystery series for Midnight Ink.   Below is text from Neil referencing Beth's book and the story of Ping.   Thanks Neil and Beth!
Beth arrived home last night with her childhood copy of the above book intact.

Not so well known is that the book modeled the internet dozens of years before the internet existed!

An acquaintance, Mike Muuss, wrote a program circa 1983 that probed the "distance" to a target host across the network.  Like the same-named SONAR function, it sends a tiny packet out onto the internet and times its 'echo'.  Mike described it in more technical terms in the linked page below.

Well, in 1999, someone 'reviewed' "The Story About Ping" as if it was about Mike's software program.  And that online review appears on Mike's page and on the page about the book.  Hilarity ensues.  (Mike died in 2000, but his internet legacy lives on.)

     (The review disappeared for a while but someone re-entered it and it's found 'helpful'.)

And yes, Ping 'lives on' on both Windows and Mac computers.

In a 'terminal' window, you can type:
and it returns:

  neils-mbp:~ neil$ ping
  PING ( 56 data bytes
  64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=54 time=99.573 ms
  64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=54 time=99.175 ms
  [ad nauseam]


  1. Wow - this takes me back...

    I went to college (The Johns Hopkins University) with Mike Muus. When a bunch of us were discussing our memories of Mike at his funeral, folks were blown away that we all actually knew the guy that wrote "ping".

  2. Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the mention. I was so glad to get my hands on my old copy of Ping when I visited my parents in Virginia. It's inscribed with a note from my mother's two male cousins who gave it to me for my fifth birthday. As the song goes, "I'm older than that now"! I just knew it as one of my favorite books as a child, and Neil had to fill me in on the computer connection. :)