ARPANET 50 years before the birth of the first Internet

On 29 October 1969, at 10: 30 pm (Pacific time), the first two letters were transmitted via ARPANET. Then the network fell. An hour later, after some fixes, the first real remote connection was made between the two computers.

It was the first network connection, which later evolved into the Internet that we all know.


The ARPANET project was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA and was created to explore the technologies needed to develop a military network that could survive a nuclear attack.

But according to Charles Herzfeld, Director of ARPA who oversaw most of the ARPANET construction:

ARPANET was not designed to be just a command and control system that can survive a nuclear attack, as many claim. The development of such a system was clearly a great military necessity, but it was not the task of ARPA. In fact, we would have been strongly criticized if we were trying to do so. Instead, ARPANET came out when we realized that there were very few large, powerful research computers in the country, and that many researchers who needed access to them were geographically remote.

In his childhood, ARPANET had only four "nodes":

at the University of California-Los Angeles Network Measurement Center with the SDS Sigma 7 computer.
at the Stanford Research Institute's Network Information Center, with the SDS 940 computer running the NLS (an early hypertext system and World Wide Web precursor).
At the University of California, Santa Barbara's Culler-Fried Interactive Mathematics Center with IBM 360 / 75. and
at the University of Utah School of Computer Science with PDP-10 of Digital Equipment Corp. operating on the TENEX operating system.

These computers, instead of being directly connected, were connected via Interface Message Processors (IMPs), which were the first network routers.

This would allow additional systems to be added as nodes in the network from each location with the weather. The idea was born by physicist Wesley Clark, who also designed the LINC, the world's first personal computer.

The first "letters" sent by UCLA to Stanford by UCLA student Charley Kline were actually two letters, "l" and "o".

In the second attempt, the full text of the message appeared, "login" passed through the UCLA Sigma 7 on the Stanford SDS 940 computer. Thus, the first two characters ever transferred from the precursor to the Internet were L, and O.

By the time ARPANET was first launched, it had grown considerably, but was still used primarily by researchers and military.

ARPANET worked for the army until 1990 and until then the use of the network for anything other than government operations and research was illegal.

ARPANET was then largely replaced by the National Science Foundation Network (NSFnet). Although the Department of Defense has been using its own networks in MILNET since the mid-1980, parts of the military have used ARPANET web links in many internal documents in the early 1990.

When the network was shut down, Vinton Cerf, one of the fathers of the modern Internet, wrote a poem about ARPANET:

  It was the first, and being the first, was the best,
but now we are laying it down to ever rest.
Now pause with me for a moment, shed some tears.
For auld lang syne, for love, for years and years
of faithful service, duty done, I weep.
Lay down thy packet, now, O friend, and sleep.

Without ARPANET, however, today's Internet would not exist.

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