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ARPANET is born (aka Internet) – Throwback Tech Thursday

Usually in Throwback Tech Thursday we like to link an event to the week that we post. This week’s one is a little different. We’re gonna talk about the first time anything was sent on the internet – or the ARPANET as it was then known. The year was 1969. Man had landed on the moon and the Beatles played their final gig together on the roof of Apple Records. These were strange days indeed. Another major event that took place in 1969  was the first ever message sent via the internet. Wanna know what it said? Read on.

So, as I was saying, we usually like to cover items that correspond with the week in which we publish a Throwback Tech Thursday piece. Therefore, what’s the link between the founding of the Internet on October 29, 1969, and the first week in July? Well, on July 3, 1969, UCLA issued a somewhat premature press release introducing the world to the Internet. 

In it they said; “UCLA will become the first station in a nationwide computer network which, for the first time, will link together computers of different makes and using different machine languages into one time-sharing system.”

The press release rightly continued by saying; “Creation of the network represents a major forward step in computer technology and may serve as the forerunner of large computer networks of the future”.

First ARPANET message

What was the first message sent on the ARPANET? Very simply, it was “L” “O”. On October 29, 1969, a UCLA student, Charley Kline, had actually been trying to type in the word “Login” – according to PBS Newshour.

Apparently, there was a crash in the system before he could finish the word. Finally, an hour after this attempt, he successfully tried again.  

According to UCLA, the first ARPANET message went from UCLA to Stanford Research Institute, which was hundreds of miles away. Charley Kline’s professor, Leonard Kleinrock, said that Kline didn’t realise he had just made history with those two letters, “L” and “O”. Kleinrock said the following of the system crash, “Hence, the first message on the Internet was ‘LO’— as in ‘Lo and behold!’ We didn’t plan it, but we couldn’t have come up with a better message: short and prophetic.”

In 2015, PBS Newshour quoted the following from Kleinrock, ‘“If you think about it,” he said. “‘L’ and ‘O’ is ‘hello,’ and a more succinct, more powerful, more prophetic message we couldn’t have wished for.”

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