The box you see here, an Interface Message Processor from BBN in Boston, is one of the very first internet routers. 39 years ago today, ARPA (now better-known as DARPA, with their un-photographable office in Arlington) fired up the ARPANET for the very first time. It was a connection between just UCLA & Stanford, and it wasn’t a permanent connection, but a four-node network over leased phone lines would be active by mid-December of 1969. The famous RFC-1 would govern their initial communications, and eventually evolve into the TCP/IP we know and love today. ARPANET would eventually become the Internet.
A year before they fired up the ARPANET, J.C.R. Licklider wrote in Science & Technology, “What will on-line interactive communities be like? In most fields they will consist of geographically separated members, sometimes grouped in small clusters and sometimes working individually. They will be communities not of common location, but of common interest. In each field, the overall community of interest will be large enough to support a comprehensive system of field-oriented programs and data.”
Pretty darned prescient, don’t you think? Anyhow, raise a glass for the Internet tonight, and for all the people you know because of it.