Internet Silver Jubilee
Report from Peter Kirstein
J ust 25 years ago, on July 25, 1973, the University
College London node of the ARPANET passed its first data packets between London and the Information Sciences Institute in California, USA. This is believed to be the first instance of an international heterogeneous computer network; here I am distinguishing it from specialised systems like air traffic control or remote banking terminals. The ARPANET/Internet node in the UK was born from political considerations, but was developed to achieve technical aims. The attempt to establish it was
controversial at the time. However once it was under way, its worth was appreciated by a broad spectrum of the research community - and their funding agents.
The UCL-CS ARPANET node played an important role in the research of the Department throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. For at least a decade, it was the only international node that linked in other networks, and was indeed the first node that went over exclusively to Internet protocols. It started off our close links with
US research, which have lasted to this day. We could not allow this important anniversary pass without a celebration.
The Department (organised in this case by Soren Sorensen and Natalie May) put on a set of talks, two receptions and a splendid dinner in Senate House. Vint Cerf gave a stimulating talk about the history of the Internet. Vint was particularly appropriate for this role, because he was a prime architect of the Internet protocols (TCP/IP) in 1972, and the first TCP/IP
experiments were done between Vint's group at Stanford University and ours at UCL. Vint has been associated with the Internet ever since. He was, until recently, President of the Internet Society, and is Senior Vice President of MCI, in charge of its Internet Architecture and Engineering Division. Phil Treleaven gave an introduction; Jon Crowcroft gave his view of the future of the Internet, and Gary Kunis
from Cisco discussed the role of the Internet from the perspective of a very important service and equipment. Provider. It was delightful to see again so many of the people who had been part of the UCL communications research group during the past quarter century, and of the many outside visitors who had been associated with the Department and its projects. Our heartiest thanks must go to Cisco Networks, Hewlett Packard and Workstations UK, who provided the financial support, which made the event possible.
Earlier in the year, I gave two talks on the early history of the Internet and the UCL node in the Science Museum and at CERN (Geneva). I have also written a paper on the history, which has been submitted for publication. It can be found at http://www.cs.ucl.ac.uk/staff/jon/arpa/internet-history.html.