Media outlets seem to have settled on October 29 as the official birthday of the Internet. This date has been chosen because it's the day that Leonard Kleinrock at the University of California-Los Angeles sent a message over a two-computer network (the other end being a computer at Stanford Research Institute) with Charley Kline manning the UCLA keyboard and Bill Duvall on the Stanford site. It's worth noting that the computer carrying the first ever transmission on the Internet ("LOGIN") crashed after only two letters ("LO"). I believe that Kline actually typed an "L" for the third letter (instead of "G") and in a fit of future-sensing self-sacrifice, executed a core dump all over the floor.
Some may point out that on September 2, 1969, two computers were connected with a 15-foot cable and passed data back and forth. That was a precursor to the networking that happened a month later, but is not generally regarded as the birth of the Internet. Just as neither the first email message (1971) nor the first web browser (1993) are considered the birth of the Internet.
Given this historic day, there has been a lot of media coverage (some of it pretty bad, just like the average YouTube video) detailing some of the steps or milestones of the last 40 years. Some of the crunchy bits:
- Web pioneer recalls 'birth of the Internet' - CNN interviews Leonard Kleinrock, responsible for hooking up those two computers
- From the first email to the first YouTube video: a definitive internet history - Guardian article that covers the first email, first virus, the first smiley (ugh), but fails to mention the first spam.
- Forty years of the internet: how the world changed for ever - also from the Guardian site
- A people's history of the internet: from Arpanet in 1969 to today - Guardian timeline integrating reader stories and curious data bits.
- 'Lo' And Behold: A Communication Revolution - NPR interviews Charley Kline for All Things Considered.
The opening image of this post is an Internet timeline (in extra large format so you can read it from the other room, or across the street) from Daily News LA article "How the Internet was born at UCLA."
Videos and Audio Bits
The All Things Considered broadcast:
A somewhat technical perspective of the time leading up to and after the birth of the Internet:
A video from 1993 by the CBC covering the "growing phenomenon of Internet" (covering mostly just Usenet):
For those who don't quite understand the relationship between the web and the Internet as a whole, the World Wide Web came much later. First as a proposal to CERN by Tim Berners-Lee in March of 1989 and then in the form of NCSA Mosaic in April of 1993 (yes, it was not the first web browser, but it was the first to get traction).
To qualify that a bit more, if anyone comes to you claiming 25 years of web experience (as one follower on Twitter recently did), you can send them away. The web is barely old enough to drive.
Update: There are no Al Gore jokes in here. This was intentional. Srsly. Then I'd have to link to a photo of Al Gore and nobody wants that.