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UCLA computer experts sparked birth of Internet

Friday, January 15, 1999

UCLA computer experts sparked birth of Internet


of information network started with team project

By Jaime Wilson-Chiru

Daily Bruin Contributor

It began at UCLA – a trickle that eventually exploded into a
wave of technology known as the Internet.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the birth of the
Internet, first installed by computer specialists at UCLA in

Although mass commercial use of the information superhighway
didn’t occur until the early ’90s, the Internet has a long

The Internet began as a small campus-to-campus network known as
the ARPANet,which was funded by the Advanced Research Projects
Agency (ARPA).

Around the time of ARPANet’s inception, Leonard Kleinrock, a
UCLA professor of computer science, was researching "packet
switching," the technology that provided the foundation upon which
the network was to be built.

"I was the inventor of Internet technology," said Kleinrock. He,
with the help of other Internet pioneers and ARPA, laid the
foundation for a network that now connects millions of people

ARPA was created in 1958 in response to the successful launch of
the Russian space satellite Sputnik. ARPA funded scientific
research in the United States, research which eventually led to the

During the 1960s, ARPA was supporting a number of researchers
across the country. As each new researcher joined the group, ARPA
had to provide each person with a "special computer" equipped with
unique capabilities.

In order for a researcher to access another researcher’s special
computer, ARPA had to find a way to link their machines.

"ARPA wanted to put all the special machines on a network so
that the researchers could interact and use each other’s
resources," said Kleinrock.

Because of Kleinrock’s research, UCLA was the location of the
first node of the network.

"They brought me in to help specify what that network would be,"
he said. His team of 40 was comprised of UCLA graduate students,
staff, researchers, faculty, programmers and hardware

The ARPANet project took about nine months to complete because
the team designed its own hardware since a connection like this had
never been attempted.

On Labor Day weekend in 1969 the first network switch, known as
an Interface Message Processor, arrived at UCLA. The next day, it
was hooked up and the very first message was sent from the node at
UCLA to a second node located at Stanford Research Institute.

Among those who helped to set up the network was the late Jon
Postel, then a graduate student working under Stephen Crocker, head
of the programming team at UCLA. Postel worked on the software that
connected each host to the first ARPANet packet switch. He also
helped install the switch in 1969.

Internet guru Vinton Cerf was also part of the ARPANet project,
and is widely known as a "father of the Internet." At that time,
Cerf was also a graduate student working on Crocker’s programming
team. Cerf is now a senior vice president at MCI WorldCom.

Frank Wazzan, dean of UCLA’s School of Engineering, was excited
about the results of the ARPANet project.

"I think it’s a fabulous accomplishment," said Wazzan "I never
dreamt that it would become a universal mode of communication."

Once this network was set up and running, it was initially used
only by ARPA-funded researchers.

But eventually, the network was opened up to all scientists,
which drew the attention of large corporations such as IBM and
Hewlett Packard, interested in the potential value of the network
in the commercial setting.

"(The network) began to get exposed to the corporate world,"
said Kleinrock.

Finally, in 1993, the web opened up, making access to the
Internet faster and easier.

"Anything that allows people to communicate with each other is
very attractive," said Kleinrock, noting the popularity gained by
the Internet.

Today, there are over 50 million computers attached to the
Internet, and traffic on the Internet doubles every 100 days.

"It’s literally exploding now," said Wazzan, adding that this
technological revolution is causing businesses to change the way
they operate and inflation to plummet.

The Internet provides millions of users a new medium of
communication and a large source of information as well.

"It’s a lot easier to use the Internet than to go to the library
and do research on your own," said David Kane, a first-year
computer science student. "It provides a good medium of
communication, and it saves a lot of paper."

Many corporations have websites on the Internet that allow
consumers access to their products, and some companies now operate
exclusively on the net.

An anniversary celebration is scheduled for September.

Kleinrock said he suspected the small network he created 30
years ago would become an important resource, but he never
anticipated it would grow like it has. "It was quite a
development," he said.DAVID HILL

UCLA computer science professor Leonard Kleinrock helped set up
the first "node" of the Internet.

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