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Winter 2004
Cyber Vision
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Illustration of robotic figureIn 35 years the Internet has dramatically changed the world in which we live. But wait ... you haven't seen anything yet

by Ajay Singh
Illustraions by James Turner

Occasionally it is possible to glimpse a rough outline of what the world might look like in the 21st century. So it was when an assembly of cyber- gurus gathered at UCLA in October to mark the 35th anniversary of the birth of the Internet.

A lot has changed since 1969, when, without any fanfare, a refrigerator-size computer lodged in a small office in Boelter Hall sent out the first-ever cyberspace message. "Lo," it read, a historically attention-seeking word that was in fact an accident. The computer had crashed before the intended term, "login," was fully transmitted.

"Login" has since become the hallmark for the Internet, that amalgam of high-tech communications technologies that makes up the global information infrastructure. A multidimensional medium, at once personal and public, the Internet enables billions to log in to a vast array of resources, from finance, technology, media, politics and the government to more traditional institutions that are often struggling to adapt to the fast-changing realities of the marketplace.

And yet the Internet has barely begun to transform global communications. Its potential reach is so huge that, at the very least, it is expected to one day connect all humans on Earth. "We’ve watched it grow, we’ve seen what it’s become and we’re seeing where it’s going," says UCLA Professor of Computer Science Leonard Kleinrock, who directed the transmission of the Internet’s first message 35 years ago, a decade after he developed "packet switching," the technology at the heart of Internet communication.


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