European Academic Research Network

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The European Academic and Research Network ( EARN ) was a computer network for mainframe computers at universities and research or scientific institutions in Western Europe, the Middle East and Africa. EARN was started at the beginning of 1984, was based on network protocols from IBM , was funded by IBM and was connected to BITNET in the USA - a computer network of the same technology - and to other such networks as well as to numerous other networks via gateways .

A boost from IBM

In 1983, IBM made the proposal “to create a pilot network for a computer network in the form of a rapid funding campaign for European science. The main idea was not to wait for final solutions that had a long time to come, but rather to install a functionally limited, but immediately available, operational pilot network in Europe. "

As a subsidy, IBM has paid for the pilot partners' national dedicated lines, international leased lines, technical and administrative coordination, and hardware and software for the central nodes - for four years. Institutions with IBM mainframes were pilot partners.

For the connection of each additional institution, this only had to bear the line costs to the next node. In addition, connection had to be granted for at least one other institution.

There was one central node per country, which was connected to the central nodes of other countries. There were also connections to BITNET nodes in the USA. The transfer rates between nodes were usually 2,400 to 9,600 bit / s, with transatlantic connections (submarine cable or via satellite) initially 64 kBit / s.

Other networks with the same technology could be reached via the BITNET, such as B. NETNORTH in Canada, SCARNET in South America, BITNETJP in East Asia and GULFNET in the Middle East.

Basic services

The technology was based on IBM's network software (Remote Spooling Communication Subsystem (RSCS) under VM / CMS or Network Job Entry / Network Job Interface (NJE / NJI) under MVS ). This allows users to send any binary data to other users. Building on this, the following basic services were available to the mainframe users at the EARN:

  • Electronic mail
  • Sending and receiving files (data, programs, etc.)
  • Exchange of interactive messages (on the screen)
  • Transfer of batch jobs (remote job entry)
  • Access to remote data (e.g. file server)
  • Access to other computers in dialog

The computers were identified by a nodeid , the users of a computer by their userid , so addressing was very easy: userid AT nodeid . The transport of data took place according to the simple store-and-forward principle: A file to be sent was sent completely from the source node to the next node, cached there and then passed on to the destination node (in contrast to the end-to-end Connection with the FTP of the Internet). A file was downloaded from a file server in two stages: the user sent a message to the server with the name of the desired file, the server replied to the user with the desired file.

The EARN commands were of course available on IBM computers with the VM / CMS and MVS operating systems. However, computers from other manufacturers could also be connected to the EARN as long as emulations existed for them (some with limited functionality): For example, computers from DEC running under the VAX / VMS operating system, Unix systems and computers from CDC running under NOS / VE.

The exchange of electronic mail with many other computer networks in the scientific field was gradually made possible via mail gateways , both with networks based on TCP / IP and OSI protocols. Particular mention should be made of the Internet, CSNET, JANET, EUNET and the WiN of the DFN-Verein.


General services for users and special functions for node administrators have been provided in the central nodes. File servers with information and programs existed on many nodes. Higher functionality services, known as applications, included:

  • NETSERV - performed various services: file server with information about EARN and other networks, network software etc .; Node management by administrators; User Directory for maintaining a user directory.
  • LISTSERV - Management of mailing lists
  • TRICKLE - file service for information and software on PCs
  • ASTRA - Search in databases (different types) on the net
  • RELAY - Conferences based on interactive messages (predecessor of the IRC )
  • NETNEWS - Read and post news articles (see Usenet ).

EARN Association

EARN Europe and EARN Germany

The EARN association (founded in 1985) was based in Paris. The interests of the EARN participants were represented by the EARN Board of Directors, which had a representative from each country. The day-to-day business was delegated to an executive committee, and the staff required was very small. Meetings took place annually and annual reports were drawn up.

The participating countries included Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, Holland, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain in Western Europe, Israel and Turkey in the Middle East as well as the Ivory Coast in Africa.

The spread of the Internet and, in particular, the appearance of the WWW have made the EARN less important. From 1990 the EARN association participated in the European umbrella organization of national research networks RARE (Réseaux Associés pour la Recherche Européenne). In 1994 EARN and RARE finally merged to form the successor organization TERENA (Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association) .

EARN in Germany

The central node in Germany - an IBM 4331 with nodeid DEARN - was initially operated by the Society for Heavy Ion Physics ( GSI ) in Darmstadt from April 1984 , and from 1988 by the Society for Mathematics and Data Processing ( GMD ) in Bonn.

Germany was involved in the EARN with many nodes very early on. At the start of 1984 there were 24 institutions. In May 1986 17 countries were involved in the EARN with a total of 367 nodes, 132 of them in Germany. In September 1987 there were 174 nodes in around 75 institutions.

EARN was started around the same time as the association for the promotion of a German research network was founded . Although many universities were happy to use the "ready-to-use" EARN, all of them supported the establishment of the science network through the DFN-Verein, so that the transition from the EARN to the science network ( WiN ) went smoothly.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b EARN brochure: Pocket Reference Summary ; Third Edition (May, 1986).
  2. a b c d e IBM brochure: Worldwide data communication for science and research - EARN and its applications 1984 to 1987 ; undated, around 1987.
  3. a b c EARN brochure: The European Academic and Research Network - Over 350 institutions, 21 countries, Some 50,000 users, Tens of thousands of documents exchanged daily, 550 computers ; undated, 1987 or later.
  4. a b c d EARN Association: EARN Pocket Guide ; Fourth revised Edition, September 1991.
  5. For comparison: The first e-mail contact in Germany with the TCP / IP network CSNET in the USA was in August 1984, the Internet domain .de was set up in November 1986. The early and rapid success of the EARN was based on the enormous spread of IBM mainframes in science.
  6. H. Hultzsch: EARN: A computer network for science DFN-Mitteilungen Heft 1 (PDF; 4.2 MB), February 1985, p. 27.
  7. Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association ( TERENA ) Twenty years of European collaboration in research networking (PDF; 1.1 MB), June 2006.