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Merit Network, Inc., is a nonprofit member-governed organization providing high-performance computer networking and related services to educational, government, health care, and nonprofit organizations, primarily in Michigan. Created in 1966, Merit operates the longest running regional computer network in the United States.

Created in 1966 as the Michigan Educational Research Information Triad by Michigan State University (MSU), the University of Michigan (U-M), and Wayne State University (WSU), Merit was created to investigate resource sharing by connecting the mainframe computers at these three Michigan public research universities. Merit's initial three node packet-switched computer network was operational in October 1972 using custom hardware based on DEC PDP-11 minicomputers and software developed by the Merit staff and the staffs at the three universities.

Over the next dozen years the initial network grew as new services such as dial-in terminal support, remote job submission, remote printing, and file transfer were added; as gateways to the national and international Tymnet, Telenet, and Datapac networks were established, as support for the X.25 and TCP/IP protocols was added; as additional computers such as WSU's MVS system and the UM's electrical engineering's VAX running UNIX were attached; and as new universities became Merit members.

Merit's involvement in national networking activities started in the mid-1980s with connections to the national supercomputing centers and work on the 56K bps National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), the forerunner of today's Internet. From 1987 until April 1995, Merit re-engineered and managed the NSFNET backbone service.

MichNet, Merit's regional network in Michigan was attached to NSFNET and in the early 1990s Merit began extending "the Internet" throughout Michigan, offering both direct connect and dial-in services, and upgrading the state-wide network from 56 kbit/s to 1.5 Mbit/s, and on to 45, 155, 622 Mbit/s, and eventually 1 and 10 gigabits/sec. In 2003 Merit began its transition to a facilities based network, using fiber optic facilities that it shares with its members, that it purchases or leases under long term agreements, or that it builds.

In addition to network connectivity services, Merit offers a number of related services within Michigan and beyond, including: Internet2 connectivity, VPN, Network monitoring, Voice over IP (VOIP), Cloud storage, E-mail, Domain Name, Network Time, VMware and Zimbra software licensing, Colocation, Michigan Cyber Range cybersecurity courses, and professional development seminars, workshops, classes, conferences, and meetings.

(Wikipedia: MERIT)

MERIT Computer Network