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Internet turns 40 at UCLA

It’s hard to imagine a world without the Internet, but 40 years ago it was only an idea — bold and untested. History was made Oct. 29, 1969, when computer scientists succeeded in transmitting the first message between two computers located hundreds of miles apart. The sender: UCLA, where a team led by Professor Leonard Kleinrock worked out of a small workspace in the School of Engineering’s Boelter Hall. The recipient: Stanford Research Institute (SRI).
40th anny bannerTo celebrate, the 40th Anniversary of the Internet symposium will be hosted by the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science on Oct. 29, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Covel Commons. The symposium will feature some of the most influential Internet leaders, activists and analysts, who will offer valuable insights on the online opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Among them will be Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post; Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of One Laptop per Child and chairman emeritus of the MIT Media Laboratory; and John Taylor, co-founder and bassist in the band Duran Duran, which sold the first song online. The conference will be livestreamed on and on UCLA’s Facebook page.
Leonard Kleinrock, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, Kleinrock, stands beside the Interface Message Processor that made the first Internet message possible.
Leonard Kleinrock, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, stands beside the Interface Message Processor that made the first Internet message possible.
A Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, Kleinrock will also speak and serve as event moderator. Only 35 years old on that historic date and the architect of the groundbreaking “packet-switching” process that would make the transmission possible, he led a team of scientists and students who worked furiously to prepare to send the first network message, which was to be “LOGIN.”
“We succeeded in transmitting the ‘L’ … and the ‘O’ — and then the system crashed,” Kleinrock recalled. “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.”
Decorated many times over for contributions to technologies that have transformed the world — including receiving the National Medal of Science at the White House in 2008 — Kleinrock continues to work out of a modest office in Boelter Hall just down the hallway from the room where the Internet began. Nearby, a storage closet holds the refrigerator-size Interface Message Processor (the IMP, as it is known) that made that first Internet message possible.
The symposium is open to the public. The $70 registration fee will be used to support and maintain critical programs at the School of Engineering, such as student scholarships and other educational opportunities.
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