Internet Birthday – Still Growing Up after 50 Years

Go Lean Commentary

Today – October 29, 2019 – is the 50th birthday of the Internet.

No joke …

This is a Big Deal – or should be – for the world and for us in the Caribbean. The Internet has brought Good, Bad and Ugly to the world:

  • Think of the ease of communications with people around the world. Have you paid for long distance telephone calls lately?
  • When was the last time you touched an encyclopedia book or volume? … a dictionary?
  • Think of retail industries that have disappeared: record stores, book stores, travel agencies.

In this commentary, we have been consistent in our advocacy of Internet & Communications Technologies (ICT); see this previous post:

Technology has also pounced on the modern world, the Caribbean included; what started as a counter-culture revolution – nerds, geeks and techies – has become mainstream and normal. People today are walking around with a computer in their pockets (smart-phones) that far exceeds Big Mainframe systems (Big Iron) from 30 years ago; think 1 terabyte of memory-storage; 3.5 Giga-Hertz processor chips; global communication networks with interconnected devices around the world.

This change is not all bad! The whole world – the people, media and information – is now accessible at our finger tips!

It is our assertion that the entire Caribbean region – all 30 member-states, Cuba included – must adopt, compete and thrive in our ICT endeavors. This is one strategy for leveling the playing field in our competition with the rest of the world. But to adopt, compete and thrive, we cannot only consume; we must produce (research and develop) as well.

Why? Because the internet can also lead consumers astray; there are lanes on the information superhighway that goes into some dark-dangerous corners of society. See how this was pronounced by this college professor, who so happens to be one of the Participating Founders of the Internet 50 years ago … today:

Opinion: 50 years ago, I helped invent the internet. How did it go so wrong?
By: Leonard Kleinrock
When I was a young scientist working on the fledgling creation that came to be known as the internet, the ethos that defined the culture we were building was characterized by words such as ethical, open, trusted, free, shared. None of us knew where our research would lead, but these words and principles were our beacon.

We did not anticipate that the dark side of the internet would emerge with such ferocity. Or that we would feel an urgent need to fix it.

How did we get from there to here?

While studying for my doctorate at MIT in the early 1960s, I recognized the need to create a mathematical theory of networks that would allow disparate computers to communicate. Later that decade, the Advanced Research Projects Agency — a research funding arm of the Department of Defense created in response to Sputnik — determined they needed a network based on my theory so that their computer research centers could share work remotely.

My UCLA computer lab was selected to be the first node of this network. Fifty years ago — on Oct. 29, 1969 — a simple “Lo” became the first internet message, from UCLA to Stanford Research Institute. We had typed the first two letters of “login” when the network crashed.

This quiet little moment of transmission over that two-computer communication network is regarded as the founding moment of the internet.

During its first 25 years, the internet grew dramatically and organically with the user community seeming to follow the same positive principles the scientists did. We scientists sought neither patents nor private ownership of this networking technology. We were nerds in our element, busily answering the challenge to create new technology that would benefit the world.

Around 1994, the internet began to change quickly as dot-coms came online, the network channels escalated to gigabit speeds and the World Wide Web became a common household presence. That same year, Amazon was founded and Netscape, the first commercial web browser, was released.

And on April 12, 1994, a “small” moment with enormous meaning occurred: The transmission of the first widely circulated spam email message, a brazen advertisement. The collective response of our science community was “How dare they?” Our miraculous creation, a “research” network capable of boundless computing magnificence had been hijacked to sell … detergent?

By 1995, the internet had 50 million users worldwide. The commercial world had recognized something we had not foreseen: The internet could be used as a powerful shopping machine, a gossip chamber, an entertainment channel and a social club. The internet had suddenly become a money-making machine.

With the profit motive taking over the internet, the very nature of innovation changed. Averting risk dominated the direction of technical progress. We no longer pursued “moonshots.” Instead advancement came via baby steps — “design me a 5% faster Bluetooth connection” as opposed to “build me an internet.” An online community that had once been convivial transformed into one of competition, antagonism and extremism.

And then as the millennium ended, our revolution took a more disturbing turn that we continue to grapple with today.

By suddenly providing the power for anyone to immediately reach millions of people inexpensively and anonymously, we had inadvertently also created the perfect formula for the “dark” side to spread like a virus all over the world. Today more than 50% of email is spam, but far more troubling issues have emerged — including denial of service attacks that can immobilize critical financial institutions and malicious botnets that can cripple essential infrastructure sectors.

Other dangerous players, such as nation-states, started coming onto the scene around 2010, when Stuxnet malware appeared. Organized crime recognized the internet could be used for international money laundering, and extremists found the internet to be a convenient megaphone for their radical views. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, facial recognition, biometrics and other advanced technologies could be used by governments to weaken democratic institutions.

The balkanization of the internet is now conceivable as firewalls spring up around national networks.

We could try to push the internet back toward its ethical roots. However, it would be a complex challenge requiring a joint effort by interested parties — which means pretty much everyone.

We should pressure government officials and entities to more zealously monitor and adjudicate such internet abuses as cyber-attacks, data breaches and piracy. Governments also should provide a forum to bring interested parties together to problem-solve.

Citizen-users need to hold websites more accountable. When was the last time a website asked what privacy policy you would like applied to you? My guess is never. You should be able to clearly articulate your preferred privacy policy and reject websites that don’t meet your standards. This means websites should provide a privacy policy customized to you, something they should be able to do since they already customize the ads you see. Websites should also be required to take responsibility for any violations and abuses of privacy that result from their services.

Scientists need to create more advanced methods of encryption to protect individual privacy by preventing perpetrators from using stolen databases. We are working on technologies that would hide the origin and destination of data moving around the network, thereby diminishing the value of captured network traffic. Blockchain, the technology that underpins bitcoin and other digital currencies, also offers the promise of irrefutable, indisputable data ledgers.

If we work together to make these changes happen, it might be possible to return to the internet I knew.

Leonard Kleinrock is distinguished professor of computer science at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

Source: Posted October 29, 2019; retrieved October 29, 2019 from:


VIDEO – The internet is turning 50 this year, here’s how it all started –

CGTN America
Posted April 2, 2019 –
The technology behind the very platform you’re reading these words on turns 50 years old on Oct. 29th. On this date in 1969, researchers sent the first message ever online.

CGTN’s Phil Lavelle reports on how it all started in room at UCLA back in 1969.

Watch CGTN LIVE on your computer, tablet or mobile

Subscribe to CGTN America on YouTube
Follow CGTN America:
Twitter: @cgtnamerica
Facebook: @cgtnamerica

The founding of the internet is not unfamiliar to this movement behind the book Go Lean…Caribbean; one of the book authors benefited from the tutelage of another one of the Participating Founders of the computer science that led to today’s internet; see the obituary excerpts of Dr. Thomas Mason in the Appendix below.

The Way Forward for the Caribbean now relies heavily on Internet & Communications Technologies. We cannot get from “here to there” without a robust participation in the art and science of ICT.

This theme – doubling-down on ICT – aligns with many previous Go Lean commentaries; see a sample list here: One Step Closer: e-Money Solutions in One Country After Another Uber: An ICT product that is a ‘Better Mousetrap’ 5 Years Later – Technology: Caribbean countries fully on board Internet Giant “Amazon”: ‘What I want to be when I grow up’ New Media Model – Network Mandates for a New Caribbean New Governing Model: e-Government 3.0 Future Focused – Personal Development and the Internet Retail Apocalypse – Preparing for the e-Commerce Inevitable JPMorganChase spent $10 billion on ‘FinTech’ for 1 year Tourism Stewardship – What’s Next? Internet Sales & Administration New Governing Model – China Internet Policing Lessons Where the Jobs Are – ICT Reshaping Global Job Market

The Internet is not fully grown – it continues to mature, despite fully-developed eco-systems.

What will be the end-result for Cable Television? Electioneering? E-Learning?

We have more questions than we have answers.

There is still opportunity for Caribbean stakeholders to mold the landscape for Internet Commerce in our region; i.e. imagine what the end result will be for 3D-Printing?

We urge all stakeholders to tune-in to the next 50 years by leaning-in to this Go Lean roadmap. We are preparing the region to not just consume, but also to foster and forge internet solutions for our homeland. This is how we will make our homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

About the Book
The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Who We Are
The movement behind the Go Lean book – a non-partisan, apolitical, religiously-neutral Community Development Foundation chartered for the purpose of empowering and re-booting economic engines – stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 14):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxvii. Whereas the region has endured a spectator status during the Industrial Revolution, we cannot stand on the sidelines of this new economy, the Information Revolution. Rather, the Federation must embrace all the tenets of Internet Communications Technology (ICT) to serve as an equalizing element in competition with the rest of the world. The Federation must bridge the digital divide and promote the community ethos that research/development is valuable and must be promoted and incentivized for adoption.

xxx.   Whereas the effects of globalization can be felt in every aspect of Caribbean life, from the acquisition of food and clothing, to the ubiquity of ICT, the region cannot only consume, it is imperative that our lands also produce and add to the international community, even if doing so requires some sacrifice and subsidy.

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix: Obituary of Dr. Thomas Mason

July 24, 2017 – It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of a great educator and STEM influencer, Dr. Thomas W. Mason. He was the founder and legendary professor of Mathematics, Data Processing and Computer Science at Florida Agriculture & Mechanical University (FAMU). 

Considering the proud legacy of Historical Black Colleges and University (HBCU), Dr. Mason was agnostic to all of that; he was first and foremost a computer scientist, who happened to be Black, He matriculated for his PhD at the University of Illinois (completing in 1973); there he worked on the ILLIAC project, directly on the ILLIAC IV effort:

ILLIAC (Illinois Automatic Computer) was a series of supercomputers built at a variety of locations, some at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). In all, five computers were built in this series between 1951 and 1974. Some more modern projects also use the name.

The architecture for the first two UIUC computers was taken from a technical report from a committee at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) at Princeton, First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC [1945], edited by John von Neumann (but with ideas from Eckert & Mauchley and many others.) The designs in this report were not tested at Princeton until a later machine, JOHNNIAC, was completed in 1953. However, the technical report was a major influence on computing in the 1950s, and was used as a blueprint for many other computers, including two at the University of Illinois, which were both completed before Princeton finished Johnniac. The University of Illinois was the only institution to build two instances of the IAS machine. In fairness, several of the other universities, including Princeton, invented new technology (new types of memory or I/O devices) during the construction of their computers, which delayed those projects. For ILLIAC I, II, and IV, students associated with IAS at Princeton (Abraham H. TaubDonald B. GilliesDaniel Slotnick) played a key role in the computer design(s).[1]

The ILLIAC IV was one of the first attempts to build a massively parallel computer. One of a series of research machines (the ILLIACsfrom the University of Illinois), the ILLIAC IV design featured fairly high parallelism with up to 256 processors, used to allow the machine to work on large data sets in what would later be known as vector processing. After several delays and redesigns, the computer was delivered to NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Airfield in Mountain View, California in 1971. After thorough testing and four years of NASA use, ILLIAC IV was connected to the ARPANet for distributed use in November 1975, becoming the first network-available supercomputer, beating Cray’s Cray-1 by nearly 12 months. – Source: Wikipedia

Notice the reference here to ARPA and ARPANet – ARPA, the Advanced Research Projects Agency, renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1972 – this was the forerunner to today’s Internet. He was proud of this participation and accomplishments of this endeavor – he often embedded this history in his lectures. He sought to influence the next generation of students to look, listen, learn, lend-a-hand and lead in the development of these cutting-edge technologies. (By extension, his impact extended to the Caribbean as well).

For those who listened and learned, we are forever grateful for Dr. Mason contributions and tutelage.

The publishers of the book Go Lean…Caribbean recognize the life contributions of Dr. Mason as a STEM educator, visionary and influencer. … Any hope of creating more jobs requires more STEM … students, participants, entrepreneurs and educators. The Go Lean roadmap seeks to put Caribbean people in a place of better command-and-control of the STEM field for their region. We need contributions from people with the profile like Dr. Mason; he provided a role model for inspiration … for this writer, a former protégé.

Share this post:
, , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *