Belated happy birthday, Internet!

I need a lot more than the one hour of “fall backwards” time today to catch up with all the anniversary news I haven’t read this weekend.

Some people plan to celebrate with red balloons in “a competition that will explore the role the Internet and social networking plays in the timely communication, wide area team-building and urgent mobilization required to solve broad scope, time-critical problems.”

For those of you who have been as distracted as I’ve been, Oct. 29, 1969, was the day the first two-letter message went between the first two computers on the ARPAnet network, which grew to be the Internet.

The first two letters of a simple “login” command, “lo,” got through before the system crashed — but that much did get through.

Here’s UCLA’s Leonard Kleinrock presenting his hand-written log of the event, a test of the connection between a computer at UCLA and one at Stanford Research Institute.

Plenty of reporters have observed over the past two days that computers have been crashing and/or getting through to each other ever since.

Here’s what Google News found online: Happy birthday, dear Internet! Happy birthday to you … – Google News.

Ignore any stories that refer to the event as “the first e-mail message.” Kleinrock is joking when he says “Lo!” was the “first message on the Internet.” It was a few years before the first network e-mail programs were operating, and 1974 to 1978 before the main Internet system protocols were developed.

The Domain Name System (.com, .edu, .net and all the rest) didn’t come along until 1983, but computer messaging — between the multiple users of mainframe computers — started much earlier.

See this Internet Chronology if you want to start marking anniversary dates for more Internet “firsts.” Its author is Lawrence G. Roberts, one of the network’s pioneers.

For more, see the Internet Society history site.

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.

Posted in History, Internet, Technology

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