Birth of the Internet

IMP Team (Left to Right): Truett Thatch, Bill Bartell, Dave Walden, Jim Geisman, Robert Kahn, Frank Heart, Ben Barker, Marty Thorpe, Will Crowther, and Severo Ornstein

This week marked an anniversary that most may not have observed. On Oct 1, 1969, a small team of engineers installed Interface Message Processor (IMP) #2 at the Stanford Research Center. Shortly afterward, they plugged in a cable connecting it to IMP #1 which had been installed at UCLA a month prior, and the Internet was born.

The IMP, which would eventually become known as the router, was the culmination of nearly two years of work by a small company called BBN Technologies and formed the backbone of the ARPANET.
I learned this, and a lot more about the making of the Internet after reading “Where Wizards Stay Up Late”, a book written by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon. At 268 pages, the book isn’t particularly long but is an even faster read than you would expect. The team did a great job with the research and includes a lot of interviews from members of the original engineering team that solved a problem no one else had….how to not only get to computers to talk to each other over long distances, but also do it with completely separate systems.

It includes a look at the origins of the Request for Comment (RFC), the creation of email, and much much more. For something that is so important to the career that we all have chosen, I would encourage you to take a couple of days and buy the book and learn the origins of the Internet.

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