UCLA Broadcast Studio

From its humble origins as a message that cut off too early to a network of computers and devices that instantaneously connects billions of people around the world, the internet has come a long way in its 50 years.

In honor of the birth of the technology that has completely remade modern life, a who’s who of technologists, thinkers, activists, engineers and executives gathered in front of a sold-out crowd at UCLA’s iconic Royce Hall Oct. 29 to celebrate the internet’s achievements and take a hard look at how our technological interconnectedness can be made safer, more secure and a tool to help create a more just world.

During the day-long event, called Internet 50: From Founders to Futurists, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti presented UCLA’s Leonard Kleinrock with a key to the city. A team led by Kleinrock, distinguished professor of computer science at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, sent the first message over the Arpanet — the precursor to today’s internet. On the evening of Oct. 29, 1969, the researchers began to transmit the command “LOGIN” from their workstation in room 3420 of UCLA’s Boelter Hall to a terminal at Stanford Research Institute. The system crashed, but not before the first two letters, “LO,” had been sent. Soon after, the network was restored, the intended message was transmitted in its entirety and a new connected era was born.

Among the other speakers: Mark Cuban, entrepreneur, investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks​; Jameela Jamil, actress, activist and founder of I Weigh; Ashton Kutcher, actor, investor and entrepreneur; Robert Metcalfe, entrepreneur and co-inventor of Ethernet; Katelyn Ohashi, UCLA gymnast, NCAA champion and viral sensation; Henry Samueli, co-founder and chairman of Broadcom; Eric Schmidt, former CEO and executive chairman of Google; Bud Tribble, vice president of software technology at Apple; and Steven Walker, director of DARPA.