Tuesday, 29 October 2019 16:53

Internet 50 years old today Featured

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On 29 October 1969 the first message was transmitted over ARPANET, the forerunner to the Internet. UCLA student programmer Charlie Kline used the University’s SDS Sigma 7 computer to login to an SDS 940 computer at Stanford Research Institute at Stanford University in Silicon Valley.

The message was ‘login’. Not quite up to the standard of Alexander Graham Bell’s “Mr Watson, come here. I want to see you” or Samuel Morse’s “What hath God wrought,” but a real word and a real message.

It was actually Kline’s second attempt. The first one dropped out after the first two letters, so you could argue that the first message on the Internet was actually “lo,” which is something to behold.

It took another month before the first permanent ARPANET link was established, and on 5 December 1969 the first ARPANET network, for nodes, was established.

ARPANET had its genesis in 1966 when ARPA, the Advanced Research Projects agency of the US Department of Defense, decided to explore the possibility connecting research and defence computers in the USA. ARPA IT head Bob Taylor convinced director Charles Herzfeld to fund the project based on the recently invented packet switching networking protocol.

The project was approved in 1968 and implemented by Boston company Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN). The first four computers were at UCLA in Los Angeles, Stanford University in Silicon Valley, University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Utah. In 1973 the first transatlantic messages were sent and by the following year there were 46 nodes on the network.

ARPANET gradually came to be called the Internet. The invention of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989 greatly improved its utility through the use of hypertext. The widespread adoption of web browsers in the early 90s, along with the opening up of the web to commercial interests, led to a massive increase in use.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.

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