Many pages have been written (and much money and time wasted!) about the problems created by the usage of a proprietary IBM communication protocol in a European network. The European Commission, which was openly against the usage of non-European protocols, provided organization resources and sponsored an European Academic Networkshop in May 1985 in Luxembourg, at which the proposal to create an European organization named RARE (Reseaux Academiques et de Recherche Europeens) was put forward.

In the minutes of the Workshop meeting it is stated that, among others, the purpose of RARE would be:

  • to coordinate and foster the development of networking within Europe for the benefit of the academic and research community
  • to promote the creation of a European research and academic networking infrastructure. The principles of Open Systems Interconnection should be applied to ensure the widest applicability.
  • transition of the existing networks to common OSI protocols
  • to be a strong counterpart to the EARN association which could become a subdivision of RARE if appropriate.

unfortunately, as it turned out, RARE became the preferred way to channel the efforts of the OSI zealots to try to prevent EARN to operate and expand.

Paul Bryant was secretary of the Luxembourg meeting and recently, re-reading the minutes written 30 years before, noted that:

“1) there was a large amount of enthusiasm, optimism and good will.
2)  almost every prediction was wrong.
3) IP was not mentioned once but ARPA got one mention...”

It was the beginning of the era known as “the Protocol wars”. I am not going to comment on these aspects here, but if you are interested I suggest you read the excellent book by Olivier Martin: The “Hidden” Prehistory of EuropeanResearch Networking, which gives a very dispassionate and objective description of that period (among other valuable information about networks in Europe).