Rory O'Connor: Happy Birthday, Mr. Internet!

Roundup: Talking About History

[Filmmaker and journalist Rory O'Connor writes the 'Media Is A Plural' blog, accessible at]

Four decades ago – on September 2, 1969, to be precise -- Leonard Kleinrock and a handful of associates began tests on what was soon to become the Internet. About forty people gathered in Kleinrock's lab at the University of California, Los Angeles to observe two bulky computers fifteen feet apart send test data to each other across a gray cable.

That was the humble beginning of what was originally called the ‘Arpanet' network -- a government-supported data network that would use the technology which by then had come to be known as "packet switching."

Soon, the Stanford Research Institute, UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah joined UCLA – and the rest, as they say, is history"

In short order, TCP/IP communications protocols, which allowed multiple networks to connect, led to the formation of what then came to be known as the Internet, and shortly thereafter, a unique addressing system, using suffixes like the famous long ago "dotcom" came into widespread use. But the Internet as such really didn't take off until the '90s, when Tim Berners-Lee invented its World Wide Web subset to facilitate linking.

Its relative initial obscurity was key to the success and adoption of the Internet, as experimentation was readily fostered and the ideal of an open network became a reality. But with more than a billion people now online, a few caveats (at least) are in order. First, it's important to remember that the early progenitors of the Net -- and the World Wide Web that followed - were all dedicated to the creation of an open network that would allow for freely exchanged information. This fundamental belief in openness, creativity and innovation led directly to the creation of email, YouTube, Facebook, iPhone and countless other applications that have changed pretty much everything about our lives in the 21st Century...

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