Interesting little story behind the first actual message sent between two machines over a data connection:
(CNN) — It was 1969 and a busy year for making history: Woodstock, the Miracle Mets, men on the moon — and something less celebrated but arguably more significant, the birth of the Internet.
On October 29 of that year, for perhaps the first time, a message was sent over the network that would eventually become the Web. Leonard Kleinrock, a professor of computer science at the University of California-Los Angeles, connected the school’s host computer to one at Stanford Research Institute, a former arm of Stanford University.
Forty years ago today, the Internet may have uttered its first word.
Twenty years later, Kleinrock chaired a group whose report on building a national computer network influenced Congress in helping develop the modern Internet. Kleinrock holds more than a dozen patents and was awarded the National Medal of Science last year by President Bush.
In an interview with CNN, the 75-year-old looks back on his achievements and peers into the exciting and sometimes scary future of the Web he helped create.
CNN: In basic terms, what happened on October 29, 1969, and what was its importance to the Internet as we know it today?
Kleinrock: Millions of people helped create this Internet. I basically supervised the creation of the Internet at the first node, both in the first connection and the very first message. We had just by then connected the first two host computers to the Internet. The first one was on September 2, 1969, when UCLA connected its host computer to the first packet switcher, the first router if you will, ever on the Internet.
But there was no other computer to talk to. So a month later, Stanford Research Institute received its interface message processor, or IMP, connected it to their host computer, and we created the first piece of the backbone network when a 50-kilobit-per-second line was connected between UCLA and SRI.
What we wanted to do was send a message essentially from UCLA to SRI’s host. And frankly, all we wanted to do was log in — to type an l-o-g, and the remote time-sharing system knows what you’re trying to do.
So we typed the “l,” and we asked over the phone, “Did you get the ‘l?’ ” And the response came back, “Yep, we got the ‘l.’ ” We typed the “o.” “Got the ‘o?’ ” ” ‘Yep, got the ‘o.’ ” Typed the ‘g.’ “You get the ‘g?’ ” Crash! SRI’s host crashed at that point. So the very first message ever on the Internet was the very simple, very prophetic “lo,” as in lo and behold.
And, you know, we weren’t aware that this was a significant event that would be recorded in history. We did not have a very effective message like “What hath God wrought” or “Come here, Watson, I need you.” Or “One giant leap for mankind.” We just weren’t that smart.
When the host computers talked to each other, I like to say the Internet uttered its first words on that day.