The Internet Sends Its First Message Forty Years Ago At UCLA

Imagine life without a refrigerator or freezer. How would you keep your Ben and Jerry’s from melting? Imagine life without automobiles and public transportation. How would you travel to the mall easily and efficiently? Imagine life without a cell phone. How would you communicate with your friends while on the go?

Imagine life without the internet? How would you survive?

“The internet has changed society so enormously that life without it would be prehistoric,” said Mercy College computer science professor, Ken Simon.

Forty years ago on Oct. 29, the internet was born. Twenty people gathered in a laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles, to watch two bulky computers pass test data through a 15-foot cable. That was the beginning of the ARPANET, a United States Government funded military project created during the Cold War as a non-centralized communication system to aid in America’s defense in case of a nuclear strike. The ARPANET became the predecessor of the global internet.

A one-word message, “login,” successfully transmitted only the letters “l” and “o” before it crashed the systems. Yet a message was sent. ARPANET escalated into a perpetual global data communications system beyond anyone’s original intentions.

In the following decade, only a few privileged scholars utilized the ARPANET for scientific research. The 1990s saw a drastic manifestation of the internet into a subfield of visual hypertext documents called the World Wide Web. The growth of the W.W.W. created the increased popularity and usage of the internet as a whole as it is extensively used today.

“Presently, the internet is used in every aspect of our lives, and we are constantly surrounded by it. The internet connects everyone to everything,” stated Simon.

In the financial sector, casual traders use the internet as an electronic way to buy and sell securities that previously was only done by professional day traders and investment bankers. The internet has also opened doors for average citizens to diagnose and treat their own medical illnesses, avoiding their medical practitioner. Attorneys and paralegals use online databases such as Westlaw to quickly find particular statutes and cases relevant to their clients’ case, alleviating them of extensive searching in a law library. Academically, teachers and professors teaching in all grade levels can instantly flag plagiarism in students’ assignments through online web sites such as turnitin.com, substituting for tedious research in professional published work.

People of all ages use the internet to enhance their lives in all aspects of life, from a study abroad student streaming live audio and video 2000 miles away to the family back home; to the parent staying up late at the office and deciding to watch the missed television show in high definition on www.hulu.com and www.youtube.com.

The multi-player approach to gaming has boomed because of the internet. Gamers are playing their video games with people around the world instead of pursuing only a single player campaign mode. Electronic Arts, the largest video game distributor, announced that starting in the first half of 2011, all their games will have an online multiplayer mode.

Physical property such as compact disc albums is being replaced with electronic forms. Downloadable digital music increased by 29 percent since last year, and it now accounts for 84 percent of all music tracks used in the United States, according to a new study from the NPD Group.

The internet is also replacing physical book stores and online book stores through the use of e-books that can be instantly downloaded to an e-book reader, saving time, space, and the environment, while adding additional mobility to the reader. Tom’s Hardware- a technology analysis company- is projecting 62 percent of adamant readers will make the ultimate switch from paperback to e-book by the second half of 2012, clearing demonstrating the preferred format.

Physical letters and cards are on their way out. Hallmark’s net income has significantly plummeted due to the rise in popularity of electronic greeting cards, and the store will be forced to close over 1200 stores nationwide by year’s end.

Online news sites, social networking sites, message blogs and forums are replacing traditional news sources such as the printed newspaper. The New York Times digital- New York Times online news company- net revenue has been consistently rising 30 percent to 40 percent for the past five years.

As the user’s demands of the internet increase, will a system that was created 40 years ago for the purpose of domestic defense and scholarly research, and 20 years ago as instant communication, still hold up to today’s data intensive bottlenecks? Researchers at the University of Virginia conclude that, “The large quantity of IP addresses that are expected to be created in the next five years, and the additional number of devices connecting to the internet, along with their enormous file sizes that are continually being uploaded and downloaded could create errors and crashes, especially when traffic spikes.”

No longer are people just connecting to the internet on their huge family desktop stationed at their home. There is a wider audience of users from children to senior citizens who are relying on laptops, netbooks, and smart phones for their internet use, causing rapid surge in bandwidth in America’s largest internet service providers.

Last month, Cablevision’s CEO James Dolan released a statement to NBC News stating that “In 2005, our average subscriber needed 100 MB of bandwidth. Today they need 5 GB. We will continue to cap our subscriber’s available bandwidth until we find alternate solutions to this issue.” Time Warner, Comcast, and Road Runner have also made similar statements.

On June 25, 2009, Michel Jackson’s death crashed the internet through the large number t of unexpected inquires is related to his name on the popular search engine, Google. Its service became inaccessible for several hours. Once that search engine was down, users deviated to Yahoo, which also had several outages. Wikipedia saw a downpour of activity, with close to 500 edits made to Jackson’s entry in less than 24 hours, causing the popular encyclopedia to be “temporarily overloaded.”

“It’s amazing that even robust servers can go down with too many simultaneous queries. One would think that the advances in computer technology would have ended that by this stage in the Internet’s maturation. Apparently not,” stated Simon.

“With the rapid growth and maturity of the internet, our demands have also increased and will exceed the capacity of the current infrastructure,” stated the renowned Stanford University professor Jacob Goldberg to CNN.

This is a potential issue creeping in the horizon. Would our society be able to adapt to this potential tragedy?

“Our society would not function, and its people would not conform, to a drastic and horrific event comparable to a complete crash of the internet. Our society is run by the internet and we are completely dependent on it,” declared Mercy College sociology professor William Lindsey.

Society has adapted to the Internet so profusely that businesses and individuals are absolutely reliant on it. Imagine life without the internet? How would you survive?

“I wouldn’t. Our lives revolve around the internet, and internet is what makes the world turn. If we are not on the internet, then we are not on this earth. To be productive, efficient, and profitable we have to take advantage of all the internet has to offer in this globally changing competitive society, for better or for worse,” responded Mercy College student Kristi Lupo.

Some students admit that they wouldn’t know what to do with the free time if it were available to them.

“I was out of town last weekend, and that one day that I didn’t check my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I wasn’t able to focus on anything else the whole day. I was literally going through withdrawal. I couldn’t image how I’d live without access to the internet at any moment of the day,” disclosed Mercy College student Heather Bishop.

“This month, my house lost electricity for two hours of the day; I had no idea what to do with my life. Everything I do is revolved around technology. This issue affected my surrounding community, but if the internet were down, affecting the entire world, we would go into a pandemic,” stated Mercy College student Luca Bruno.

Some view the internet as a potential terroristic attack location.

“The potential collapse of the internet is a daunting issue creating fear in my and many people’s lives,” said Peter Passafiume, a senior corporate and homeland security major at Mercy College. “I see this as a potential concept for terrorists to exploit to instantly reach their objects. This would cripple our society similar to 9/11.”.