Elon University

ISOC 20th Anniversary Opening Keynote – ARPANET developer Leonard Kleinrock

ISOC 20th Anniversary LogoBrief session description:

Monday, April 23, 2012- Leonard Kleinrock is a packet-switching pioneer. Leonard Kleinrock, distinguished professor of computer science at UCLA, served as one of four speakers at the opening keynote for the Internet Society’s 20th anniversary Global INET in Geneva. Kleinrock, a pioneer behind the theory of the mathematical packet networks that underpin the technology of the Internet, traced the history of the network’s development from its humble beginning in 1969 to the bustling, constantly evolving program it represents today. Kleinrock also predicted the future of the Internet, which, as he puts it, includes a “change in the way we do everything in our world and society.” Kleinrock was also involved in the development of ARPANET and his laboratory in UCLA became the first node for the network, a precursor to the Internet we know today. He has been recognized repeatedly for his work in the field of computer science, including a 2007 National Medal of Science, the highest honor for science given by the president of the United States. In the opening keynote, Kleinrock was joined by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia; Hamadoun Touré, secretary general of the International Telecommunications Union; and Lynn St.Amour, president and CEO of the Internet Society.

Click here for a transcript of this talk.
Click here to view video of complete keynote.

Details of the session:

In 1969, the development of the Internet was really overshadowed by other high-impact, newsworthy events taking place at the time, becoming cultural touchstones that last today, among them: the biggest moment in space exploration with the first arrival of men on the moon, the Woodstock music festival, the New York Mets won the World Series of Major League Baseball, Charles Mansion went on a killing spree, and – by the way – the Internet was born.

Kleinrock Speaking ISOC “Nobody noticed, even those of us who were putting it together didn’t notice in some sense,” Kleinrock said of the networking efforts of early researchers dedicated to exploring the possibilities of computers and packet switching. “But if you look at the impact, it had a greater impact than all of those events together.”

The environment in which the Net was created had a sigificant influence on the minds behind it, he contends.

“As we talk about some of the technology, you have to understand the key to the success of the Internet wasn’t the technology being developed, but the environment,” he said. “It was a golden era where creativity and good ideas were flowing all over the place. It’s an era not to be repeated, unfortunately.”

Those ideas, based on openness, ethics, freedom, sharing and trust, were supported and inspired by ARPA’s brilliant program managers who were willing to take into account a long-range outlook with high risk and a high pay-off. He said because they had limited terms they had no personal agenda that could effect things long-term.

“They didn’t interfere with the studies,” he said.  “They took a very relaxed attitude. They allowed their researchers to do what they needed to do. They allowed the graduate students to blossom and show their creativity. And the graduate students organized themselves into working groups and cross-university efforts. And the underlying technology itself had the same flavor, a distributed-control technology. Nobody was in charge. It was all ‘dream what you can, think about it well, and we’ll put it all together,’ because we trust each other, we share, it’s all going to work together.”

He said this was key to bringing it all together. “That was the magic,” he smiled knowingly. “That was the magic that is not often talked about but is back there in the history we’re celebrating today.”

Kleinrock Opening KeynoteThe development of ARPA, launched in 1953, was supplemented by the ongoing work of researchers creating the underpinnings of the Internet, including Kleinrock, Paul Baran and Donald Davies. As the technology grew, the public generally showed little faith in the project.

“Nobody cared and they said it wouldn’t work,” Kleinrock said.

“’Even if it does work, we want nothing to do with it.’ That was the mentality.”

Nevertheless, in the fall of that year, the first IMPs – interface message processors allowing communications between computers – were established at UCLA and Stanford Research Institute, and the first message was sent via the Internet at 10:30 p.m. Oct. 29.

Kleinrock told his rapt audience that the duty of the scientists at UCLA was to start the log-in by typing L-O-G. They typed the “L” and asked SRI, “Did you get it?” Yes, they received the “L.” They typed and sent the “O” and it was recieved at SRI. They typed the “G” and, Kleinrock exclaimed, “Crash! The first word sent on the Internet was ‘Lo’!

“You couldn’t have asked for a more succinct, prophetic message than that by accident, but it is the best one ever and hopefully no one will ever forget that,” he added.

The original switch – the interface message processor – still exists at UCLA in the Kleinrock Internet History Center.

“How many revolutions do you know where you can point to the exact spot where it occurred?” he said. “You’ve got the exact four square feet there that started the Internet, so that’s worth looking at.”

While the Internet currently penetrates nearly every aspect of life for its users, Kleinrock says it has years of development to come.

“The Internet has really only reached its teenage years,” he said.

“That gives you a kind of condition to see why it’s behaving the way it is. It’s behaving very badly – it’s mischievous, it’s erratic, it’s unruly and it’s disobedient. Hopefully it will grow up and get past this stage but it’s not unusual to see this kind of behavior as a technology begins to feel its strength, mature and find its way in life and set its principles. I’m optimistic about that.”

Keynote Speaker KleinrockOther challenges have historically plagued the Net, including viruses and the use of spam through emails.

“The Internet allows anyone to reach hundreds of millions of users quickly, easily, at no basic cost and anonymously,” Kleinrock said.

“What better formula for the dark side of the Internet?”

While admitting to the dark side, he mostly kept the tone upbeat and optimistic. He quoted Nikola Tesla, who said in 1908:

It will be possible for a businessman in New York to dictate instructions, and have them instantly appear in type at his office in London or elsewhere. He will be able to call up, from his desk, and talk to any telephone subscriber on the globe, without any change whatever in the existing equipment. An inexpensive instrument, not bigger than a watch, will enable its bearer to hear anywhere, on sea or land, music or song, the speech of a political leader, the address of an eminent man of science, or the sermon of an eloquent clergyman, delivered in some other place, however distant. In the same manner any picture, character, drawing, or print can be transferred from one to another place.

Kleinrock said Tesla was “a giant of his years and this was more than 100 years ago this man was talking about the Internet if you parse it correctly.”

Yet, Kleinrock predicted that the future of the Internet will be bright and include nomadic communities allowing users to remain connected no matter their location. “Everything’s going to be converged,” he explained. “We’re going to see significant differences in the way we do everything, society, the way we are organized. It’s going to be a world of extreme mobility. That’s already become apparent. Mass personalization – that’s not an oxymoron.” He also predicted “video addiction,” location-based services and social networks will continue to gain ground.

Applications of the Internet will continue to surprise us, he said.

“To summarize, we’re going to have, basically, a pervasive global nervous system on this planet. In terms of the applciations and services, no one’s in charge. It’s the Wild West. Surprise in apps, great opportunity. An open, new world.”

– Reporter: Caitlin O’Donnell

Return to home page for Imagining the Internet’s
coverage of the Global INET Conference 2012
Imagining the Internet Home
Internet Society Home Page

Twitter Logo A selection of Twitter Reports from this ISOC 20th event:

Keynote Speaker Hall

ARPANET developer Leonard Kleinrock to look at historic impact of Internet over past 40 years #ISOC 20

In this UCLA video, Kleinrock describes the first network connection and its message: “LO” #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET

Kleinrock shows off the first Internet equipment – a router originally used to start it all #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET

Origins of Net tech found in ARPANET, US Defense Adv Research Projects Agency (DARPA) #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET

In this Big Think video Kleinrock talks about the future #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET

Leonard Kleinrock reviews history of Internet as starting keynoter at #ISOC 20 #GlobalINET – great approach. His UCLA students are lucky.

@FreddyLinares 1969 was an incredible year, man landed on the moon, Woodstock Festival, The Internet was born @kleinrock #GlobalINET

Kleinrock: Program managers looked at long-range planning. Technology was distributed. Trust. Share. We will all work together. #ISOC 20

Kleinrock: More email than postal mail was sent in 1996! ISOC 20 GlobalINET

@apisanty Convergence, changes ways people live, Internet will be pervasive global nervous system. Kleinrock #GlobalINET #ISOC

@InternetSociety From @Kleinrock’s opening address @ #GlobalINET: What was the first word on the #Internet? ‘Lo’ (a failed attempt at “login”) #history

Kleinrock: Davies coined term “packet” and if he’d had support the keynote speaker leading off today would have a British accent. #ISOC 20

Kleinrock “The Internet has only entered its teenage years. It’s behaving very badly. Not unusual as a tech begins to set principles.” #ISOC

@copylinda “In the future Internet will become a pervasive global nervous system” Dr. Leonard Kleinrock #Globalinet

The multimedia reporting team for Imagining the Internet at the Internet Society’s 20th Anniversary Global INET Conference included the following Elon University students, faculty, staff and friends: Jacquie Adams, Dan Anderson, Janna Anderson, Kacie Anderson, Nicole Chadwick, Jeff Flitter, Addie Haney, Brandon Marshall, Brian Meyer, Caitlin O’Donnell, Rachel Southmayd and Rebecca Smith.