Internet Turns 50, Just Might Catch On

Two old computers floating in space with a glowing dotted connection between them; one screen reads “LO…” while on the other screen reads “…L”.

My parents argued the Internet was a fad. They may still be right.

Media outlets have settled on October 29 as the official birthday of the Internet. It’s the day that Leonard Kleinrock at UCLA sent a message over a two-computer network (the other end being a computer at Stanford Research Institute) with Charley Kline manning the UCLA keyboard and Bill Duvall on the Stanford site.

The computer carrying the first ever transmission on the Internet (“LOGIN”) crashed after only two letters (“LO”). I believe Kline actually typed an “L” for the third letter (instead of “G”). Prove me wrong.

Internet history milestones: 1969 First online message, 1971 first email, 1991 first web page, 1995 Amazon launch, 1997 Google launch, 2004 Facebook launch, 2007 @WhiteHouse launches.
This is one take. From USA Today.

On September 2, 1969, two computers were connected with a 15-foot cable and passed data back and forth. That was a precursor to the networking that happened a month later, but is not generally regarded as the birth of the Internet. Just as neither the first email message (1971) nor the first web browser (1993) are considered the birth of the Internet.

While the World Wide Web is not the Internet, it is the platform built atop the Internet with which people are most familiar. The World Wide Web Foundation is using today to promote its effort to protect the web overall:

We urgently need an ambitious, coordinated effort to tackle the threats facing the internet and the web, and make sure that everyone is able to access the benefits of digital technology. Next month, we’ll publish the Contract for the Web — a plan created by experts and individuals from across the world to make sure our online world is safe, empowering and genuinely for everyone.

UCLA has been running a live stream day-long discussion of the Internet:

Along with the trailblazing Arpanet pioneers, today’s leading technologists and visionaries will discuss the genesis, current state and future aspirations of our connected world.

Opening image uses a pair of Lear-Siegler ADM5s from the Museum of Computer history in La Défense, Paris. The source computer image is by ntr23 and is licensed CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.


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