Early Internet switch becomes museum piece

The Science Museum has taken delivery of a small piece of Britain's cyber history

The London Internet Exchange (LINX) marked its 10th anniversary on Monday night by giving the UK's Science Museum one of its first switches.

The switch, a Cisco Catalyst 1200, will be displayed at the Museum in South Kensington, close to valued technological relics such as Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine and some of Alan Turing's computational work.

With its eight ten-megabit ports, the Catalyst 1200 offers just a tiny fraction of the power of some of the kit used today to handle the tens of gigabytes of data that pass through LINX every second. But it was cutting-edge back in 1994, when five ISPs formed the exchange as an interconnection point between each other and the rest of the world.

"It may look like just a beige box today, but in 200 years it will be seen as a very significant item," said Dr Tilly Blyth, curator of computing at The Science Museum.

LINX also gave the museum the first 100-megabit capable switch deployed by any Internet exchange, a Catalyst 5000, which it installed in 1996.

According to Grahame Davies, chairman of LINX, these two switches are "a tangible link with the momentous dawn of the commercialisation of the Internet".

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