The genesis of this paper was my realization that, in a multiprocess system with synchronized clocks, the absence of a message can carry information. I was fascinated by the idea that a process could communicating zillions of bits of information by not sending messages. The practical implementation of Byzantine generals algorithms described in  could be viewed as an application of this idea. I used the idea as something of a gimmick to justify the paper. The basic message of this paper should have been pretty obvious: the state machine approach, introduced in , allows us to turn any consensus algorithm into a general method for implementing distributed systems; the Byzantine generals algorithms of  were fault-tolerant consensus algorithms; hence, we had fault-tolerant implementations of arbitrary distributed systems. I published the paper because I had found few computer scientists who understood this.
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