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The Internet Turns 50 Years Old

by Andrew Mawhinney

The Internet has allowed anonymous communication to and from any person with a router, giving them the ability to say absolutely anything they want, to anyone they want, at any time they want.  

This ability has changed society in ways that are both good and bad.  

However, birthdays are no time to focus on the bad, and in October the Internet celebrated 50 years of existence. 

On Oct. 29, 1969 at 10:30 p.m., the first message between two networked computers was sent. The message was sent from the University of California in Los Angeles to SRI International in Menlo Park, California—a distance of over 300 miles.  

The message was comprised of the letters “l” and “o” as the sender—Professor Leonard Kleinrock—was attempting to type the word “login,” but the system crashed after only two letters were sent. But it was the beginning of something revolutionary.   

This connection was certainly significant, but the Internet would not start to affect our everyday lives until the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989—coincidentally making 2019 the thirty-year anniversary of the WWW. 

Tim Berners-Lee wrote a paper suggesting a method of publishing information on the Internet for public retrieval.  

By 1993, the first popular web browser, Mosaic, was created, and the rest is history.  

According to Internet Live Stats there are approximately 1.7 billion websites that exist, with almost 4.4 billion internet users worldwide.  

Besides the obvious benefits, such as having the informational equivalent of thousands of libraries in the palm of your hand, the Internet has shaped the way we function at the most basic level.  

With access to a computer, any single person today is more intelligent than the smartest person alive fifty years ago.  

Worldwide communication allows us to make friends with people who we have never met in person, as well as stay informed on events happening right now, while before the Internet that information could have taken months to reach us citizens. 

The Internet has done more good than it has bad. 

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