Paving the Information Highway ► Throwback Thursday

According to the WikiWackyWoo: On this day in “1969 – The first-ever computer-to-computer link is established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet.

And, nothing was ever the same again.

APRANET stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency Network and we’re all monkeys typing on this network trying to recreate the works of Shakespeare, or something.

In the early ’60s, when computers filled entire rooms, it seemed like Science Fiction that one day they might be talking to one another. So much so that back in 1963, when J. C. R. Licklider started to theorize the ideas that eventually led to the innertubes, he referred to it as the Intergalactic Computer Network.

In October 1963, Licklider was appointed head of the Behavioral
Sciences and Command and Control programs at the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). He convinced Ivan Sutherland and Bob Taylor
that this network concept was very important and merited development,
although Licklider left ARPA before any contracts were assigned for

Sutherland and Taylor continued their interest in creating the
network, in part, to allow ARPA-sponsored researchers at various
corporate and academic locales to utilize computers provided by ARPA,
and, in part, to quickly distribute new software and other computer science results.[11] Taylor had three computer terminals in his office, each connected to separate computers, which ARPA was funding: one for the System Development Corporation (SDC) Q-32 in Santa Monica, one for Project Genie at the University of California, Berkeley, and another for Multics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Taylor recalls the circumstance: “For each of these three terminals, I
had three different sets of user commands. So, if I was talking online
with someone at S.D.C., and I wanted to talk to someone I knew at
Berkeley, or M.I.T., about this, I had to get up from the S.D.C.
terminal, go over and log into the other terminal and get in touch with
them. I said, “Oh Man!”, it’s obvious what to do: If you have these
three terminals, there ought to be one terminal that goes anywhere you
want to go. That idea is the ARPANET”.[12]

Meanwhile, since the early 1960s, Paul Baran at the RAND Corporation had been researching systems that could survive nuclear war[13] and presented in the United Kingdom National Physical Laboratory (NPL) the first public demonstration of packet switching on 5 August 1968.[14]

The ARPANET led to the Internet. I’ve been online since 1988, first on the USENET through BBSs [Bulletin Board Systems] and then, later, directly logging into the World Wide Web. When Windows democratized the internet with point and click, nothing was ever the same again.

I am grateful to the U.S. Military for two of my favourite things: The internet and Steel Drum Music.

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.

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