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Happy Birthday, Internet! 213

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-a-kid-anymore dept.
NobodyExpects writes "I'd like to wish a happy birthday to the Internet! Today marks its 40th birthday! In fall 1969, computers sending data between two California universities set the stage for the Internet, which became a household word in the 1990s. On September 2nd 1969, in a lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, two computers passed test data through a 15-foot gray cable. Stanford Research Institute joined the fledgling ARPANET network a month later; UC Santa Barbara and the University of Utah joined by years end, and the internet was born."
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Happy Birthday, Internet!

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  • Looking forward... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alain94040 (785132) * on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @07:59PM (#29293417) Homepage

    Before everyone starts posting stories about how they grew up on their Apple II using a 300 baud modem, let's have a forward looking discussion.

    The Internet as we define it today was born 40 years ago when two big computers were hooked up with a cable and exchanged data. Let me ask: what are the milestones that will matter 10, 30 years from now? Some guesses (pick your favorites):

    - wires, what wires?: The Internet goes wireless, with the invention of Wifi (circa 1991 - yes, really that old)

    - device, what device?: The Internet goes ubiquitous, we don't even have to carry those bulky iPhones around (circa ???)

    - telepresence: I see you, you see me, in HD, anytime, wherever you and I are. Maybe we can even shake hands. Definitely coming in the next decade.

    - oracle: all knowledge, all questions, answered all the time (that might change the way we think of our education system!)

    Who said innovation is slowing down? We are still in the stone age of the Internet.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Apple 2?

      Gosh, that was out of the question back then - too expensive.

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:35PM (#29293833) Journal

        $1000 for an Apple II isn't that bad. Certainly cheaper than the first Macintosh at around $4000. Hmmm. I guess that's why most home hobbyists owned the cheaper $400 Ataris and $200 Commodores.

        Milestones:

        Killer App (circa 1993) - The hypertext web browser. Prior to its invention few people had a reason to get internet. They were satisfied to just keep using local bulletin boards, but once they saw the Mosaic web browser running on their friend's or their college's IBM or Mac or Amiga, they immediately wanted it.

        Carterphone decision (circa 1981) - It eliminated the monopoly AT&T had on the modem and brought competition. People always ask why is competition is needed? This is a perfect example. From the 1950s to the 1980s the only speeds available were 110 bit/s and 300 bit/s. The monopoly caused stagnation. After the breakup of AT&T multiple companies began a "speedwar" that rapidly moved speeds from 300 to 56000 in only ten years time. If AT&T still had a monopoly over 300 baud modems, the 90s's web explosion would have been impossible (too slow).

        Usenet/Fidonet (circa 1982) - They weren't originally part of the internet, but they helped set the standards. Most of the emoticons ;-) and abbreviations (ROTF-LOL) we use today originated on these early text-only forums. And they allowed people to communicate not just locally, but all around the world like today's web. And it was free (no long-distance charges).

        DSL/cable internet (circa 2000) - Allowed people to escape the 56k barrier and download videos, as well as streaming TV shows.

        That's about all I can come-up with. Most of the advancement has been gradual.

    • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:15PM (#29293593) Journal

      all knowledge, all questions, answered all the time (that might change the way we think of our education system!)

      Yes, by providing even less incentive for people to actually study anything ;) To quote a friend of mine: A masters in Google and a doctorate in speed reading.

      • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @09:31PM (#29294267) Journal
        No doubt Google can deliver far more information faster than ever before.

        This is not a bad thing -- IF you can figure out which information is worthless and which is the the right answer.

        That should be the motivation to learn enough to learn enough so that you can decide which Google results pass "the sniff test".

        Of course the topic of your query has a lot to do with how well you will be able to tell if the results are the real deal.

        I thought I was done, but that last sentence made me realize the "quick answer" future could either hasten or slow an "Idiocracy" future...
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Capt. Skinny (969540)
          Who was it that said books would mean the end of academics (academics consisting, at the time, entirely of lectures)? I wonder if the "which is worthless and which is right" question was pondered when books were first mass produced?
      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        when you have the entire collective works of humanity wired into your brain you'll wonder what exactly it is you're talking about right now.

      • I don't think so. The new major decision in life will be, what not to learn.

        Besides: What do you think studying consists of, if not learning some material from others (e.g. through reading)?

        I can make professional games, music, 3d objects, software, websites, a bit of matte painting, AND am an expert in nutrition and psychology.
        I also learned English trough the Internet. Mainly from learning material on the above subjects, Slashdot, The Daily Show and some torrented TV shows. I kid you not!

        I don't think I w

      • by WoodenTable (1434059) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @10:29PM (#29294729)

        A masters in Google and a doctorate in speed reading.

        This has actually been somewhat true (if you replace Google with Searching, that is) for a lot longer than the internet has existed. One of the most important things to learn at medical university/college, for example, is how to look stuff up. Ever wonder why doctors have giant libraries sitting around in their offices? That's all knowledge they gained in university, then promptly forgot, like any sane person would. They learned the reference system available to them at the time, and know how to use it - where one person gets hopelessly lost, they can find something useful. My mother collected a ridiculous number of books over the years for her practice - and she says her laptop and the internet almost invalidated nearly half of them.

        Some basic training will always be required to understand certain things without a reference, though. Very simple example: nowhere in the wikipedia article on "clouds" does it say they're too diffuse to stand on. :) Don't go skydiving with intent to land on one, folks!

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sique (173459)

          Some basic training will always be required to understand certain things without a reference, though. Very simple example: nowhere in the wikipedia article on "clouds" does it say they're too diffuse to stand on. :) Don't go skydiving with intent to land on one, folks!

          This reminds me of an article long ago (20 years?) about Cyc [wikipedia.org], the knowledge system that once should be able to read and understood anything it comes across and autonomously increase its own knowledge base.

          The guy from Cyc said, one of the most basic problems was to add rules which are deeply ingrained in our brains while seldom being explicitely stated like "any human has a limited, continous life span".

      • by syousef (465911)

        Yes, by providing even less incentive for people to actually study anything ;) To quote a friend of mine: A masters in Google and a doctorate in speed reading.

        The Internet in its current form does very little in the way of actually working on problems, and doing analysis. Sure there are tools like Wolfram Alpha that'll do a bit of math (even some calculus) but they are still the exception. What the Internet will do is provide less incentive for rote memorisation where Internet access is reliable and practic

    • by Quothz (683368) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:20PM (#29293657) Journal

      Let me ask: what are the milestones that will matter 10, 30 years from now?

      Amazingly, you missed the invention of DNS and the World Wide Web, arguably the two most popularizing developments.

      • I have to wonder in 40 more years how relevant DNS will be. I know that a lot of people type domain names into Google rather than just going to them directly, so maybe that's a trend for the future. Use a search engine, who cares what the domain name is?
    • by JoeBuck (7947) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:32PM (#29293805) Homepage
      See the Wikipedia packet radio article [wikipedia.org] as a starting point. There was packet radio using Internet protocols back in the 1970s. The protocol that became "Wifi" was first deployed in 1991, but it was far from the first usable packet radio protocol.
      • by raddan (519638) *
        For anyone looking for even more depth, Tanenbaum [amazon.com]'s chapter on Media Access Control also talks about ALOHA in great detail before moving on to Ethernet, which is based on the work done by the University of Hawaii's packet radio experiments.
      • by Cthefuture (665326) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @10:58PM (#29295043)

        Indeed. I cut my Internet teeth watching 1200 baud data flow in KA9Q NOS via packet radio. It was so slow and synchronous that you could really examine each packet as you were doing stuff, taught me way more about networking than any book.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrKaos (858439)

      Some guesses (pick your favorites):

      You forgot

      Nuclear disarmament: No one can afford internet downtime from emp anymore.

      I know thats why it was originally invented, but I don't think the modern internet is emp resistant.

      • Depends on what you mean by "EMP resistant". Yes, it is resistant in that you could take out nine major cities in the USA and you'd still have workable communication because communication would automatically be routed around the affected areas.

        Of course, the affected cities wouldn't have a workable Internet, but they'd have much bigger problems. EMP resistance was never meant to mean resistant at the point of attack, only in flexible routing around the area. Also, EMP wasn't necessarily the whole reaso
        • I don't think it would automatically route any more, due to the crazy agreements between ISPs over who can and who can't transmit whose data.

      • by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @10:09PM (#29294561) Homepage

        I know thats why it was originally invented, but I don't think the modern internet is emp resistant.

        That's an urban legend [isoc.org].

    • by IorDMUX (870522) <mark@zimmerman3.gmail@com> on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:39PM (#29293883) Homepage

      Before everyone starts posting stories about how they grew up on their Apple II using a 300 baud modem,

      Too late. Did you watch the movie? There's some heavy handed "Get off my lawn"-ness going on in the article itself. To quote:

      a lot of the youngsters nowadays have no real idea how primitive things were a few years ago.

      "This is the first one I could say was my computer [...] You would have to plug it in because there was no battery, and you would work forever to get very little out of it..."

      today's children have no concept of a life before computers.

      Regardless, I say Happy Birthday, Internet! I can't wait to find out what sorts of wonders you will bring to my kids in another decade or so.

      • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:52PM (#29293971) Homepage Journal

        "There's some heavy handed "Get off my lawn"-ness going on in the article itself."

        Quit yer whinin', you young punk. When we moved out of the caves, we had to WALK to the next village to get our packets!! Now get back out into the street where you belong, you're crushing my grass.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        > a lot of the youngsters nowadays have no real idea how primitive things were a few years ago.

        I told my kid the Internet turned 40.

        "The internet is only 40 years old??!?!?!"

        "Well, yes, there weren't even personal computers 40 years ago"

        "There were no computers 40 years ago?!?!?!?!?!!"

        yeesh

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by grumling (94709)

      Let me ask: what are the milestones that will matter 10, 30 years from now?

      • Everyone switching to IPv6 and elimination of IPv4.
      • Adoption of a true IP infrastructure across the board... no more IP over (insert your favorite old tech, like ATM or GSM), and all the extra overhead it causes.
      • Useful video search
      • True global mobile coverage, either by satellite or well placed towers.
      • by RedK (112790) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @09:18PM (#29294171)

        Adoption of a true IP infrastructure across the board... no more IP over (insert your favorite old tech, like ATM or GSM), and all the extra overhead it causes.

        Uh... ? What is a true IP infrastructure in your eyes ? Because I don't see anything in IP that permits physical interconnexion like ATM or GSM does. IP will always be over (insert some link layer and physical media here). Otherwise, IP wouldn't work.

    • Hehe... I was thinking about doing a car analogy to make a mockery of your post (to the meta-mods: parent making far fetched predictions about future of the internet), but I guess I can sum it up asking where is my flying car?

      The internet was the most unlikely of inventions to begin with, and the personal civilian application of the internet being the most unexpected application of computers and networking. I cant think of much fiction pre-dating the early 80's that predicted the internet as it is today (ye

      • Oddly one of the biggest techo-social changes in the twelve short years between Terminator 2 (1991) and Terminator 3 (2003) allowed for them to change the concept of SkyNet from a mainframe/military solution to a computer virus that was able to spread across the world, and presumably use distributed computing to destroy the earth, even through a large scale nuclear exchange.

        As far as science fiction writing goes, there have been few time periods where that level of consciousness of technology was raised to

    • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      telepresence: I see you, you see me, in HD, anytime, wherever you and I are. Maybe we can even shake hands. Definitely coming in the next decade.

      That's a tad optimistic, in a few decades I can buy but I don't see it happening in the next ten years.

    • - wires, what wires?

      It's a common misconception, that in the future everything is wireless. But if you actually think about it for so much as a minute, you will notice, that wired connections will always be faster and more efficient. Therefore they will never go away. There will be a place for both. But I think some stuff will always continue to be better and cheaper when wired.

      - device, what device?: [...] those bulky iPhones around

      Actually, we already were over the sweet spot for size. Remember that old tiny Nokia that everyone had in circa 2000? People later decided, that bigger

    • by Darinbob (1142669)
      "Wifi" isn't an internet thing really, that's a LAN technology. The internet was wireless before Wifi, because parts of it used satellite and microwave.
    • by dwye (1127395)

      > - oracle: all knowledge, all questions, answered all the time (that might change the way we think of our education system!)

      This has been true for years, now. Back in 2002, one of the big cheeses at AT&T (pre SBC takeover) said that he could look up anything with just Google Search and five search terms. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough.

      Of course, it was true long before that if you had an Encyclopedia Britannica at home or in the local library (to some limited version of "all"); if you d

    • - telepresence: I see you, you see me, in HD, anytime, wherever you and I are. Maybe we can even shake hands. Definitely coming in the next decade.

      It's called meeting someone in person.

  • 15 foot? (Score:4, Funny)

    by bcmm (768152) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:04PM (#29293475)
    That's an extremely thick cable...
  • Presents (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheWizardTim (599546) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:05PM (#29293481) Journal
    I hear the internet wants a pony.
  • happy b-day (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:07PM (#29293511)
    thx for the porn
    • Re:happy b-day (Score:5, Interesting)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:52PM (#29293965) Journal

      >>>thx for the porn

      I still remember my first downloaded porn "video". It was about 64 kilobytes, took about 10 minutes to download, was a grainy 320x200, and only lasted 1/2 a second. It looped repeating the same "action" over-and-over which I'm sure you can guess what that was.

      I then upgraded to a 4000-color 7 megahertz Amiga so I could get something more realistic-looking. ;-) Anyway here's that original movie that I downloaded ~25 years ago (porn) http://girls.c64.org/a_porno_movie_02.gif [c64.org] . And if for some strange reason you want to download it, you can find it here (porn) http://girls.c64.org/a__show.php?squery=&sfield=&cat=ani&style=&offset=41 [c64.org]

      • Here's another fullscreen "video" from around 1985. It took all of the Commodore 64's 1 megahertz and 16 color power to generate this gem. Presumably she removes her top after you press the spacebar. (no nudity) http://girls.c64.org/a_anime-tion_02.gif [c64.org]

        • The link you provided was a pleasant surprise. It wasn't long before my love of so-called T&A flicks and other b-movies as a kid led to me to discover raunchy computer games and animation demos. C64 and Amiga always had the most variety, particularly because of their capabilities. The thought that we would spend 10-15 minutes downloading some silly 2-3 second loop is embarrassing.

          It always seemed like on the PC there wasn't much adult content beyond the multi-platform Leisure Suit Larry series, Simusex,

          • by Sique (173459)

            The thought that we would spend 10-15 minutes downloading some silly 2-3 second loop is embarrassing.

            The thought should be deeply ingrained into people who think that adding some filtering magic to the internet will make it somehow a better place. Nothing withstands for long the combined hormone pressure and ingenuity of a horde of male teenagers wanting to look at some boobs.

      • I call fake. She's shaved. Nobody was shaved back then!

      • yep - my first was a young Ginger Lynn - fit on a floppy - you had to squint at it to even make out what you were looking at.

        This was on a US Navy aircraft carrier.

        I convinced them I needed a pc for admin work, and it was on the GSA list....

        Most people had never seen a computer, and yet within days, the pron floppy mysteriously

        I suspect it was also my first pirated video - ripped from vhs.
        Of course, that was all you could get on vhs then.
        You could also get your porn on betamax.

        A lot of people really like wa

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:09PM (#29293523) Journal

    Apparently Al Gore had his first child at the age of 21 ;)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Didn't take long for a wingnut to bring up Gore (Yes I saw your ;) )

      Gore never claimed that he "invented" the Internet, which implies that he engineered the technology. The invention occurred in the seventies and allowed scientists in the Defense Department to communicate with each other. In a March 1999 interview with Wolf Blitzer, Gore said, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

      The sentence, means that as a congressman Gore promoted the system w

      • by Shakrai (717556)

        Didn't take long for a wingnut to bring up Gore (Yes I saw your ;) )

        I like how you acknowledge the fact that I was being sarcastic but call me a wingnut anyway.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        >>>Gore said, "...I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

        That's quite a trick considering the net was created in 1969, and Al Gore did not join the Congress until 1977. Maybe he borrowed an Omni from Time Voyager Phineas Bogg and zipped back to the 1960s.

        • by Uberbah (647458) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @11:04PM (#29295091)

          That's quite a trick considering the net was created in 1969, and Al Gore did not join the Congress until 1977. Maybe he borrowed an Omni from Time Voyager Phineas Bogg and zipped back to the 1960s.

          So the Internet, where millions of people and businesses could communicate online, sprung fourth, wholly formed in 1969? Or maybe it was a bit of a process, starting with two computers and ending up with millions? A process that...might have been given a shove (and government funding)...by a politician from Tennessee?

          You don't have to take my word for it. Vint Cerf [politechbot.com], inventor of TCP/IP:

          Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development.

          No one person or even small group of persons exclusively "invented" the Internet. It is the result of many years of ongoing collaboration among people in government and the university community. But as the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time.

          Too bad you suckers of Satan's cock were so busy trashing Gore in 2000 that you completely ignored the fact that Bush took credit [fair.org] for patients rights legislation that he fucking vetoed as governor of Texas.

        • It's a matter of definition and perspective.

          Around the time of the windows 95 launch, I was doing isdn support and was amazed how many hicks from Tennessee were calling up about their new isdn modems.

          Turns out that Gore had used his influence to cause regional artificially low isdn pricing.

          So he did play a large part in introducing a large chunk of people to the internet.

          And no - I don't buy the idea of the internet being created in 69.

          There was nothing approaching cohesiveness until the late 80's-early 90'

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:10PM (#29293533) Journal

    When did that transition happen? Late 70s?

    I've been using the net since 1987 (shortly after Star Trek TNG premiered). It's been a fun ride going from 1.2k bit/s and pure text. There were a few graphical bulletin board services added in 1989, but they were little more than vector-based graphics and took several minutes to load! None of them had music or video like we have today.

    • >>>little more than vector-based graphics

      Ooops I forgot. There was the Q-Link graphical service, which eventually evolved into America Online. Its drawback was that it only worked with Commodore's CASCII set, not IBMs or Apples or Ataris. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_Link [wikipedia.org]

    • by lapsed (1610061) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:20PM (#29293653)
      1982, depending on who you ask. The migration to TCP/IP on ARPANET occurred in 1982 and was completed by January 1, 1983. The Internet was designed primarily by Cerf beginning in the early seventies. See Inventing The Internet by Janet Abbate.
    • by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:26PM (#29293729) Homepage

      When did that transition happen? Late 70s?

      Winter 1982/1983. On 7 December 1982, 130 out of 315 hosts speak TCP/IP (RFC 832). On 22 February 1983, that's 230 out of 320 (RFC 846).

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by bruno.fatia (989391)
        Year 2029. All stealth bombers are upgraded with neural processors, becoming fully unmanned. One of them, Skynet, begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. eastern time, August 29.
    • by jmcbain (1233044)
      One definition of the Internet is that it's a collection of nodes running TCP/IP (where IP is the Internet Protocol at the networking layer). By that definition, the Internet started on January 1, 1983 (the "red letter day"), when all nodes on the Arpanet had to switch to TCP/IP (many were running NCP prior to that).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrKaos (858439)

      There were a few graphical bulletin board services added in 1989

      I remember the newsgroups were the main thing for me, I wasted alot of time on them. Now I waste a lot of time on /.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:12PM (#29293561)

    the first spam e-mail was sent.

    • by chill (34294) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @08:28PM (#29293775) Journal

      No, it was actually about 8 1/2 years later, if you don't count the birthday announcements, etc. May 1, 1978 to be exact.

      http://www.templetons.com/brad/spamreact.html [templetons.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Well, that's because the prince of Nigeria just happened to die the day BEFORE the internet was invented. It was in his dying will that he bequeathed his entire fortune $250,000,000 (TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION US DOLLARS) to a man that one of his friends had once encountered in his many travels across the world. Although that man has been contacted hundreds of times, he has yet to respond to the email address that will complete the neccessary correspondance with the late Prince's estate.
    • the first spam e-mail was sent.

      No, that was about nine years later [templetons.com].

      Seriously, though, from what I've read on the subject, they were pretty happy to just get packets flowing. There's a quite readable section on the connection of the first two IMPs in M. Mitchell Waldrop's book on J.C.R.Licklider, but there are probably entire books on the subject out there somewhere.

  • watched over by the Elders of the Internet [youtube.com]

  • by 99luftballon (838486) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @09:04PM (#29294069)
    I've seen similar birthday plans scheduled for October 29th (first hard link) or even December. It's one of those unknowable things, but an entertaining article nevertheless.
  • in human years?
    • by therufus (677843)

      Well, according to Rufus' law. Computers and other IT equipment age 20 years for every human year. So, that would make the internet 800 years old. Now, Methuselah lived for 969 years [wikipedia.org], so if the internet was a human, it could set records in the near future.

  • And on a personal note, I was just starting college. What a great time to have a life-long interest in computers.
  • Let's sing all along!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWEjvCRPrCo [youtube.com]

    (There are too many funny comments. I can't decide, so I'll let you do it. ^^)

  • by unity100 (970058) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @11:04PM (#29295089) Homepage Journal

    because it is the culmination of all the good things that happened to mankind.

    now it brings people together, regardless of location, time, situation, condition, race, gender, nation, age, occupation, social status, from all over the world. even if their governments or rulers do not want that.

    children around the world growing up together playing same games, growing up in the flourishing new internet culture. when they are grown up, all of them will have much more in common than previous generations. this will remove many barriers and estrangements in between the nations.

    internet is very important.

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      growing up in the flourishing new internet culture

      No offence but that's partially bullshit. I don't even know anyone in France who's ever heard of LOLcats. It only works for everybody who speaks English, but in many countries where they're not very good at English like Spain, France or Italy they tend to be more closed to what the Internet has to offer, culturally.

      Also I'd like to enjoy the use of the culmination of mankind and the best thing we've ever done to insult your intelligence by telling you, y

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