Forty years ago today, on October 29th, 1969, the first link in what was to become ARPANET (the first packet switching network, that later grew into the Internet, and formed the backbone of today's World Wide Web) was tested. The BBC reports:
It has often been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For the internet, that first step was more of a stumble.
At 2100, on 29 October 1969, engineers 400 miles apart at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) and Stanford Research Institute (SRI) prepared to send data between the first nodes of what was then known as Arpanet.
It got the name because it was commissioned by the US Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (Arpa).
The fledgling network was to be tested by Charley Kline attempting to remotely log in to a Scientific Data Systems computer that resided at SRI.
Kline typed an "L" and then asked his colleague Bill Duvall at SRI via a telephone headset if the letter had arrived.
Kline typed an "O". Duvall said that arrived too.
Kline typed a "G". Duvall could only report that the system had crashed.
They got it working again by 22:30 and everything went fine. After that first misstep, the network almost never put a foot wrong. The rest has made history.
. . .
From those first two nodes, Arpanet quickly grew and by December of 1969 it had four nodes. By 1972 it had 37 and then started the process of connecting up networks to each other and the internet, a network of networks, came into being.
Dr [Larry] Roberts [the MIT scientist who worked out the fundamental technical specifications of the Arpanet] has spent his professional life involved in networks and is not done yet. He is currently driving a Darpa research project to get the net ready for the next 40 years.
The work is concentrating on ways to improve security, enshrine fairness so no-one can hog capacity and guarantee quality of connection to support exquisitely time sensitive applications such as remote surgery.
There's no doubt that the net's first step was the start of a giant leap.
There's more at the link.
From so small a beginning, to today's World Wide Web, with probably half a billion people logged on to the Internet at any moment of the day or night . . . that's quite a story! Those involved in its origin may be justly proud, I think. Congratulations to all concerned.