October 29 – Internet Day

Posted on October 29, 2014

A loong, loong time ago, there were dinosaurs. Did you know that, at that time, there was no internet?

Have you ever wondered when the internet was first created? Or what that even means?

Today is Internet Day, sometimes called International Internet Day, and it celebrates the very first time two far-away computers communicated electronically. It happened on this date in 1969 – just a few months after the world was shook up by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on – and walking on – the moon.

But this much less grand even shook the world up, arguably, even more.

Here's how it went down:

UCLA student Charley Kline tried to send a message to a computer around 350 miles away, at the Stanford Research Institute.

The message was, perhaps, not the earth-shaking sort of message you might hope for. As a matter of fact, it was just one word:


Here's what happened, in Kline's words:

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.”

So, yeah. This world-shaking event was the transmission of TWO LETTERS! The one-word message didn't get through, because one of the computers crashed partway through the attempt!

Still, this half-success was the beginning of something big. ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) was a system developed under the auspices of the Department of Defense to connect four university departments that were working on military R & D.

About an hour after “LO” was transmitted, Kline and Duvall tried again and were able to transmit the entire word “LOGIN.” And

Now, the Internet is:
  • worldwide
  • publicly accessible
  • a series of interconnected computer networks
  • networks that transmit data by packet switching, or breaking up the message into parts that are sent independently, and then reassembled at the other end
  • networks that use standard Internet Protocol (IP)

And of course, the Internet is:

  • videos of kittens

  • social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

  • millions and millions of blogs, in which we publicly journal our days or review local restaurants or otherwise self-publish our self-esteen

  • about a billion live websites – a milestone that was just reached last month! (September 2014)

  • bajillions of searchable images of everything from green thermos flasks to Ancient Egyptian-themed birthday parties for kids

  • irreverent and often ridiculous memes, most of them involving grumpy cats, Ted of Bill-and-Ted, the Dos Equis guy, or someone face-palming

Also on this date:

Creole Day in Dominica

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