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What an anniversary

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

Every so often my mind drifts back in time and I find myself reminiscing about the good old days. Today I seem to fixated on October, 1969. It was the month the concord broke the sound barrier, it was the first time seven people were in space at one time, and the Federal government banned the use of cyclamates artificial sweeteners.

As great as those events were, nothing compares to the greatest event of the year, possibly the last fifty years; the birth of the internet.

It all began in UCLA’s Boelter Hall, room 3420, when, on October 26th, a graduate student named Charley Kline sat at an ITT Teletype terminal and sent the first digital data transmission to Bill Duvall, a scientist who was sitting at another computer at the Stanford Research Institute, on the other side of California. It was the beginning of ARPANET, the small network of academic computers that was the precursor to the internet.

The action itself was not earth shattering . However, their communications link was proof of the feasibility of the concepts that eventually enabled the distribution of virtually all the world’s information to anyone with a computer. Such simple things (now), smartphones to garage door openers, security cameras to day timers would be a whole lot different without the internet.

After a few weeks of Kline and Duvall’s first successful communication, the network grew to include computers at UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah. Through the ’70s and much of the 1980s, connecting more and more government and academic computers was taking place, laying the groundwork for the internet we know today.

Back in 1969, a UCLA press release touted the new ARPANET. “As of now, computer networks are still in their infancy, but as they grow and become more sophisticated, we will probably see the spread of ‘computer utilities,’ which, like present electric and telephone utilities, will service individual homes and offices across the country.”