On October 29th, we celebrate the most important invention in human history.
While the internet may not have been possible without a million other monumental inventions that came before it, it’s hard to find any other invention that has had such a monumental impact on mankind. That’s why, since October 29, 2005, we’ve been celebrating the anniversary of the first internet transmission. It is a chance to celebrate the people who helped build the internet, while also giving us a moment to reflect on all the ways that it has changed our lives forever.
The Internet is Under Attack
The internet as we know it could soon come to an end. Ajit Pai, the current FCC Chairman and former Verizon general council, moved to repeal net neutrality in 2017. This order gave internet service providers the ability to block, throttle traffic to, or provide a fast line to any site or service they want.
In 2020, the fight is still going. Visit Eff.org to learn more about the current status of net neutrality, and how you can help preserve it.
Friendly reminder that reversing title II would destroy net neutrality and allow ISPs to block access to your favorite sites. pic.twitter.com/3hEkwKZetL
— Spooky Joe (@JoeAdamG) October 25, 2017
It All Began with Leonard Kleinrock
Let’s go back to where it all started. The Internet, defined as a remote connection between two computers, was first achieved on October 29, 1969 (just a few months after Neil Armstrong took the first steps on the moon). In the glow of a green monochrome screen deep in the bowels of the computer science department at UCLA, a young graduate student picked up his phone and called the computer lab at Stanford. He is preparing to send the first message over an Internet connection. The men on either end of the phone are Charley Kline and Bill Duvall.
While not as famous as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren, Leonard Kleinrock, Charley Kline and Bill Duvall were the key players in the first Internet connection. Working on the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), a network funded by the US Defense Department that connected four independent terminals installed at ULCA, Stanford, the University of California-Santa Barbara and the University of Utah, Charley Kline attempted to send login information from UCLA to Bill Duvall at Stanford.
It almost worked, too. Kleinrock attempted to send the word “login”, and he managed to send “L” and “O” before the connection between the terminals crashed.
“So I’m on the phone to SRI and I type the L and say, “OK I typed in L, you got that?” Bill Duvall, the guy at SRI, is watching his monitor and he has the L. I type the O. Got the O. Typed the G. “Wait a minute”, Bill says, “my system crashed. I’ll call you back”.
– Charley Kline,
interview with AOL Mail Bag
Still, the characters “L” and “O” were the first bits of data ever sent over the first long distance computer network. Under the supervision of UCLA computer science professor Leonard Kleinrock, Kline was able to send the complete “Login” message about an hour later.
Note: while Kleinrock holds the honor of sending the first message over the internet, J.C.R. Licklider probably deserves to be called the “father” of the internet, as well as the GUI. You can read more about J.C.R on his Wikipedia page.