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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
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.