Technology The first online message was sent 50 years ago. How has the internet evolved since then?
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HONG KONG — In many places around the world, a single date marks seismic events considered turning points in recent history, like the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States or the Nov. 9 fall of the Berlin Wall for Europe. For post-colonial Hong Kong, the turning point fell on Aug. 31, 2014.
Fifty years ago, two letters were transmitted online, forever altering the way that knowledge, information and communication would be exchanged.
On Oct. 29, 1969, Leonard Kleinrock, a professor of computer science at UCLA, and his graduate student Charley Kline wanted to send a transmission from UCLA's computer to another computer at Stanford Research Institute through ARPANET, the precursor to what we now know as the internet.
ARPANET connected universities working for the Department of Defense under its ARPA (now DARPA) program for new military technologies.
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Sound checks echoed from a distant main stage while Daniel Martinez whirled and danced at dusty makeshift festival grounds just after sunset in Rachel, the Nevada town closest to the once-secret Area 51 military base. Martinez's muse was the thumping beat from a satellite set-up pumping a techno tune into the chilly desert night Thursday.Warm beneath a wolf "spirit hood" and matching faux fur jacket, the 31-year-old in Pokemon collectible cards dealer said people, not the military base, drew him drive more than six hours from Pomona, California, alone."Here's a big open space for people to be," he said.
In 1969, only four universities had computers — which,, were "room-sized ... with under-floor air conditioning" — connected to the network: UCLA, Stanford, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the University of Utah.
The message sent by Kleinrock and Kline was intended to be "login." Their system crashed, however, as soon as they typed the second letter. It took an hour to send the whole word, but by then, "lo" cemented its place in the internet's history. For Kleinrock, the message took on a completely different meaning, anyhow.
“‘L’ and ‘O’ is ‘hello,’ and a more succinct, more powerful, more prophetic message we couldn’t have wished for," he told OZY.
Two years later, in 1971, the first email was sent by MIT researcher Ray Tomlinson — which was also the first time the "@" sign was used to designate a specific recipient of a message.
50 years after internet conception, dark side stirs fear
On October 29, 1969, professor Leonard Kleinrock and a team at the University of California at Los Angeles got a computer to "talk" to a machine in what is now known as Silicon Valley. © Robyn Beck Leonard Kleinrock poses beside the first Interface Message Processor (IMP) in the lab where the first internet message was sent, at the University of California Los Angeles The event gave birth to a network that later became known as the internet -- hailed at first as a boon to equality and enlightenment, but with a dark side that has emerged as well.
The World Wide Web, as we know it now, didn't get invented until 1989, when British computer scientist Tim Berners-Leeand the technologies to access, create and share web pages. He published the first web page in 1991.
But many of the services and websites that define the modern internet were not created until years after its inception. Amazon didn't begin selling products until 1995, not as a one-stop emporium but, rather, as a virtual bookstore, Google's first search took place in 1998 and iTunes didn't launch until 2003.
Meanwhile, today's largest social media network, Facebook, wasn't invented until 2004. YouTube raised its curtains in 2005, Twitter wasn't open for business until 2006 — and the White House created its account a year later. (Thefrom the account wasn't sent until 2009.) Instagram started at the turn of the decade in 2010.
A complete guide to the evolution of the Internet
What was once a method for the US military to communicate top secret messages across continents has now morphed into the omnipresent connection that brings you cat videos.The internet traces its roots to a US defense department project in the 1960s born out of (pdf) the Cold War, and a desire to have armed forces communicate over a connected, distributed network. The military’s research arm, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), began work on a communication project, which led to the creation of ARPANET, one of the earliest iterations of computers talking to each other on a network.
Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
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