"It didn't take very long before we started seeing all sorts of wonderful properties in this model. The network would learn where everybody was. You could chop up the network and within half a second of real-world time it would be routing traffic again. Then we had the realization that if there's an overload in one place, traffic will move around it. ...If somebody tries to hog the network, the traffic routes away from them. Packet switching had all these wonderful properties that weren't invented - they were discovered... Like the realization that by breaking the physical address from the logical address, you could move around the network and your address would follow you"
"The story I tell is of the time I went over to AT&T headquarters - one of many, many times - and there's a group of old graybeards. I start describing how this works. One stops me and says, "Wait a minute, son. Are you trying to tell us that you open the switch up in the middle of the conversation?" I say, "Yes." His eyeballs roll as he looks at his associates and shakes his head. We just weren't on the same wavelength.
If you think in analog terms, the signal arrives instantaneously. If you think in digital terms, time moves very, very slowly, and you can do things like change the path while you're in the middle of a syllable. But it was a mental block. They didn't understand digital"
"Do you ever wish you owned a patent on packet switching?"
No. First of all, 17 years went by very quickly. Secondly, it would've gotten in the way of people using it. That was one of the objectives: to broaden the access.
What's your sense of when you first thought that this thing you were working on was going to take over the world?
Around December '66, I presented a paper at the American Marketing Association called "Marketing in the Year 2000." I didn't talk about packet switching, but I described push-and-pull communications and how we're going to do our shopping via a television set and a virtual department store. If you want to buy a drill, you click on Hardware and that shows Tools and you click on that and go deeper. In the end, if you have two drills you're interested in, then you hit your Consumers Union button, and their evaluation goes up on the screen..."
from March 2001Wired interview with Paul Baran, the father of packet-switched network.