Where it all started: "the internet" in 1969

Four points on a map, not too far apart, linked up in "The spirit of community"

Credit: Image via UCLA (and many other linking sources)

Gmail went down this afternoon, and quite a few people joked about getting a free break from work.

The internet connection at my coworking space got glitchy for about 10 minutes today. Throughout all of those 10 minutes, you could hear people angrily clicking trackpads, grumbling, openly scoffing at their multi-tab browsers, and wondering if it was them or something else.

My wife was walking through New York City this morning, and sent me a chat message asking me which high-falutin' coffee shop to visit. I responded, and she used her phone's Siri voice assistant to pin down the place and get directions.

I relate all this so that you have some context for the image above, likely snagged or cropped from UCLA's history of ARPANET, posted by Twitter account HistoryInPics, picked up by The Daily Dot, and then seen by your humble blogger in Digg Reader.

To say the results of the precursor to the World Wide Web, Internet, or whatever we're calling this thing of ours today have far exceeded the initial goal is drastic understatement. Still, all that communicating, passing along, re-sharing, re-tweeting, and coffee-asking was, in a way, the original intent. The Advanced Research Project, under the U.S. Department of Defense, hired Dr. J.C.R. Licklider in 1962 to head up their response to the Soviet Union's launch of a satellite manned by a dog. Dr. Licklider's intentions were thus (emphasis mine):

His idea for the project was the "spirit of community" and was interested in "having computers help people communicate with other people" (Licklider, Licklider, and Robert Taylor) as opposed to using the computer to communicate for us.

... By the end of 1969, ARPANET was able to connect to four locations: UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, SRI, and Utah.

What Licklider considered an early success was being able to send messages and data points between single terminals at four points on the entire earth. Now you can leave a comment about this blog post, and I could read it from just about anywhere, on a computer the size of a roomy matchbook, almost anywhere that cellular towers can reach.

Enjoy the web, folks. Use it in the spirit of community.

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