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Internet Began 35 Years Ago at UCLA
with First Message Ever Sent Between Two Computers
Forum to Mark Anniversary Set for October 29

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the birth of the Internet at UCLA.

UCLA will celebrate this historic event with an exciting, insightful day-long forum on Friday, October 29. Many of the Internet's early pioneers, as well as some of today's most thought-provoking and influential industry leaders and rising stars will offer their perspective on how the Internet came to be what it is today, and what it will be like tomorrow.

"The Internet's founding fathers, its current heavy hitters and its young visionaries will all be in one room together to talk about this technology's impact on society," said Leonard Kleinrock, a computer scientist in the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

UCLA became the first node of what was then known as the ARPANET on September 2, 1969 when Kleinrock led a team of engineers in establishing the first network connection between two computers, ushering in a new method of global communications that has forever changed the course of business, politics, entertainment, education and social interaction.

A month later a second node was added at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and on October 29 the first host-to-host message was launched from UCLA.

"When we sent that first message, there weren't any reporters, cameras, tape recorders or scribes to document that major event," said Kleinrock. "We knew we were creating an important new technology that we expected would be of use to a segment of the population, but we had no idea how truly momentous an event it was."

Computer networks were still in their infancy at that time, and though Kleinrock predicted the spread of "computer utilities" servicing homes and offices across the country, even he is surprised at how pervasive the Internet has become.

"What I missed was that my 97-year old mother would be using the Internet today, and she is," said Kleinrock.

Kleinrock's research into the data networking technology that led to packet switching provided the technological foundation upon which the Internet is built. He wrote the first paper on the subject in 1962 as a graduate student at MIT, and in a subsequent book published in 1964 he showed how packet switching could work at a time when most communications experts claimed that packet switching was not possible.

Kleinrock will be joined by other key Internet pioneers at the October 29 anniversary event at UCLA, including Lawrence G. Roberts, Robert E. Kahn and Vinton G. Cerf. Roberts was the driving force behind the funding and development of the ARPANET while Director of Information Processing Techniques for ARPA. Cerf, Kleinrock's former graduate student, and Kahn were co-inventors of TCP/IP, the basic communications protocols that are still commonly used today.

Attending the 35th Anniversary of the Internet will be representatives from Broadcom, Microsoft, Intel, HP, MCI and The New York Times. Broadcom and NetZero are event sponsors. UCLA has established a web site with more information at http://internetanniversary.cs.ucla.edu.

The ARPANET - which later became the Internet - was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), created in 1958 to support scientific research in the United States.

ARPA had been supporting a number of computer scientists around the country in the 1960s, each of whom had unique information and capabilities on their individual computers. ARPA officials reasoned that by connecting the existing computers together via a data network, the community of scientists would be able to gain access to each others' computers and be able to communicate more effectively.

A team of researchers connected the first host computer to the network switch, known as an Interface Message Processor (IMP) on September 2, and by the end of the day bits began moving between the UCLA computer and the IMP. Then, on October 29, the first Internet message was sent - but not without a hitch.

"All we wanted to do was to login from our host computer at UCLA to the SRI host computer," said Kleinrock. "We needed to transmit the letters 'log' to SRI, at which point the SRI host would add the letters 'in' to complete the word 'login'."

The UCLA researchers set up a telephone connection in addition to the data network connection so that the programmers at each end could talk to each other and report what they were each seeing at their end of the connection.

The UCLA team began by sending the 'L' and asked, "Did you get the L?" The reply from SRI: "Yes."

They then sent the 'O' and asked, "Did you get the O?" Again came the reply from the Stanford programmer: "Yes."

However, when the UCLA engineers attempted to send the letter 'G' the host computer at Stanford crashed.

"As a result, history now records how clever we were to send such a prophetic first message, namely 'lo,'" said Kleinrock.

For more information about the 35th Anniversary of the Internet event go to http://internetanniversary.cs.ucla.edu.

-Chris Sutton

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