In The Beginning...
Way back in 1994, when the rest of my classmates were figuring out where they wanted to go to college, I was figuring out how to get connected to the internet. I had been using IRC to make friends and learn new things, and I became enthralled with all things UNIX.
I was fortunate enough to purchase a Sparc IPX. It had 64MB of memory, a 1GB disk, a Weitek CPU upgrade, and a Sun GDM-1662B monitor. All of it ran Solaris 2.5 and sipped power at about 20 watts per hour.
At some point – I'm not sure when – I put in a request with InterNIC (The predecessor to ARIN) for a couple of IP addresses. I was granted two blocks of IPs:
188.8.131.52/24 and 184.108.40.206/24
For the longest time it was very easy to get IP address space. You simply needed to ask for it and you'd get it. I didn't quite know what to do with these, but when I moved to San Jose, I was able to get them connected to a Centrex ISDN connection, and later to a Covad DSL connection when I moved up to San Francisco.
I had to beg my ISPs to advertise my address space, because I was afraid of BGP. Years later I would get an ASN, connect all of my gear, and have a multi-city, multi-ASN network running a redundant Proxmox cloud.
Nowadays, I have nearly half a dozen peering partners, gear in Los Angeles and Dallas, and have acquired another organization with its own /24 and ASN.
It's pretty easy to build autonomous systems, if you have an ISP partner to work with, and it's pretty easy to set up BGP. A lot of this is becoming a lost art due to the decision by most companies to operate in the cloud. The fact is, this is the basis for everything in the cloud.
My network is tiny and you can fit it in a pocket, but I'm very fortunate to have had an opportunity to get IP space and a two-byte ASN at the right time in history and to have developed all of these additional skills.