October 29, 2015

Today in History: Precursor to internet arrives, opens floodgates to virtue and vice (1969)

John RobsonResident Historian

On Oct. 1969, just after men first set foot on the moon, humans managed the first-ever computer-to-computer link through ARPANET, precursor to the Internet. And opened the floodgates to remote surgery, all the knowledge of mankind a click away, and Twitter, cat videos and discussions that invariably spiral into off-colour diatribes that dead-end with a fatuous comparison to Hitler.

The technical achievement was certainly remarkable. From text on X-, Y- or Z- protocol bulletin boards to “Mosaic,” the first “browser” to put all the pieces together, assembling text, sound and images, to email, digital banking and today’s fibre-optic cable and Netflix all available through that thing in your pocket that used to be a telephone. But the use humans made of that technology was predictably depraved as well as elevated; for thousands of years men and women lived full satisfying lives without knowing what “Facebook” or a “nude selfie” was and arguably they were better off for it.

If you want to know what went wrong, well, thanks to human ingenuity there is of course an app for that. It’s the one that turns your cellphone into… a mirror.


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commented 2015-10-31 19:04:29 -0400
To honor ARPANET my Wi Fi network is named APENET.
commented 2015-10-30 12:15:51 -0400
I “booted up the mirror app” : It saved a replica of my computer … I knew it, my computer was the problem. ;-p
commented 2015-10-29 20:50:50 -0400
The first Internet message was QWERTYUIOP. The second was “what are you wearing, baby?”
commented 2015-10-29 13:51:30 -0400
I love John’s vids — they’re fun, educational and always entertaining!!
commented 2015-10-29 12:59:42 -0400
Too much brain waste on the frivolous I guess!