The Kinetics FastPath was a MacIP to TCP/IP router created in 1985 to allow Apple Macintosh computers (which at the time only had LocalTalk network connections) to communicate with other computers on Ethernet networks. The product had five significant revisions (known as KFPS-1 through KFPS-5) during its lifetime and was sold by Shiva Networks late in its existence. The FastPath itself was modeled after an implementation of the Stanford Ethernet - AppleTalk Gateway (SEAGATE) created at Stanford University Medical Center by Bill Croft in 1984 and 1985. SEAGATE was a combination of hardware and software that picked up IP packets from the Ethernet network and encapsulated them inside of DDP packets on the AppleTalk network and conversely picked up specially-encoded DDP packets on the AppleTalk network and placed them on the Ethernet network as IP packets.
Although a few sites used the actual SEAGATE multibus hardware, it served as a proof-of-concept and was eclipsed by the Kinetics FastPath and similar hardware gateways by other companies. However, many university and research Fastpath owners continued to run the Stanford gateway software (called KIP) inside the Kinetics box. This is because KIP was open source and local modifications and adaptations could be made.
By 1987, Apple had begun shipping Macintosh computers that were capable of having Ethernet connections directly, but the LocalTalk networking products prospered into the early 1990s, due to the popularity of Apple's plug-and-play networking.
- Fast path - a shorter path through a program than the 'normal' path, using less (or faster) instructions
- LocalTalk-to-Ethernet bridge
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