Fifty years ago, a UCLA computer science assistant and his apprentice sent the first bulletin over the antecedent to the internet, a arrangement called ARPANET.

On Oct. 29, 1969, Leonard Kleinrock and Charley Kline sent Stanford University researcher Bill Duval a two-letter message: “lo.” The advised message, the full word “login,” was truncated by a computer crash.

Much more cartage than that campaign through the internet these days, with billions of emails sent and searches conducted daily. As a academic of how the internet is governed, I know that today’s vast communications web is a result of governments and regulators making choices that collectively built the internet as it is today.

Here are five key moments in this journey.


1978: Encryption failure

Early internet pioneers, in some ways, were appreciably farsighted. In 1973, a group of high school acceptance reportedly gained access to ARPANET, which was declared to be a closed arrangement managed by the Pentagon.

Computer scientists Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn appropriate architecture encryption into the internet’s core protocols, which would have made it far more difficult for hackers to accommodation the system.

But the U.S. intelligence association objected, though admiral didn’t about say why. The only reason their action is public is because Cerf hinted at it in a 1983 paper he co-authored.

As a result, basically all of today’s internet users have to handle circuitous passwords and multi-factor affidavit systems to ensure secure communications. People with more avant-garde aegis needs often use basic clandestine networks or specialized aloofness software like Tor to encrypt their online activity.

However, computers may not have had enough processing power to finer encrypt internet communications. That could have slowed the network, making it less adorable to users – delaying, or even preventing, wider use by advisers and the public.


1983: ‘The internet’ is born

For the internet to really be a global entity, all kinds of altered computers needed to speak the same accent to be able to acquaint with each other – directly, if possible, rather than slowing things down by using translators.

Hundreds of scientists from assorted governments collaborated to devise what they called the Open Systems Interconnection standard. It was a circuitous method that critics advised inefficient and difficult to scale across absolute networks.

Cerf and Kahn, however, proposed addition way, called Transmission Ascendancy Protocol/Internet Protocol. TCP/IP worked more like the approved mail – wrapping up letters in bales and putting the abode on the outside. All the computers on the arrangement had to do was pass the bulletin to its destination, where the accepting computer would figure out what to do with the information. It was free for anyone to copy and use on their own computers.

TCP/IP – given that it both worked and was free – enabled the rapid, global ascent of the internet. A array of governments, including the United States, eventually came out in abutment of OSI but too late to make a difference. TCP/IP made the internet cheaper, more avant-garde and less tied to official government standards.

1996: Online speech regulated

By 1996, the internet boasted more than 73,000 servers, and 22% of surveyed Americans were going online. What they found there, though, afraid some associates of Congress and their capacity – decidedly the rapidly growing amount of pornography.

In response, Congress passed the Communications Decency Act, which sought to adapt bawdiness and abomination in cyberspace.

The Supreme Court struck down portions of the law on free-speech area the next year, but it left in place Section 230, which stated: “No provider or user of an alternate computer account shall be advised as the administrator or apostle of any advice provided by addition advice agreeable provider.”

Those 26 words, as assorted assemblage have noted, appear internet account providers and web-hosting companies from legal albatross for advice their barter posted or shared online. This single book provided legal aegis that accustomed the U.S. technology industry to flourish. That aegis let companies feel adequate creating a consumer-focused internet, filled with grassroots media outlets, bloggers, chump reviews and user-generated content.

Critics note that Section 230 also allows social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to accomplish abundantly after regulation.

1998: US government steps up

The TCP/IP acclamation scheme appropriate that every computer or device affiliated to the internet have its own unique abode – which, for computational reasons, was a string of numbers like “”

But that’s hard for people to bethink – it’s much easier to recall article like “” There had to be a centralized record of which names went with which addresses, so people didn’t get confused, or end up visiting a site they didn’t intend to.

Originally, starting in the late 1960s, that record was kept on a floppy disk by a man named Jon Postel. By 1998, though, he and others were pointing out that such a cogent amount of power shouldn’t be held by just one person. That year saw the U.S. Department of Commerce lay out a plan to alteration ascendancy to a new clandestine nonprofit organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – better known as ICANN – that would manage internet addresses around the world.

For nearly 20 years, ICANN did that work under a arrangement from the Commerce Department, though objections over U.S. government ascendancy grew steadily. In 2016, the Commerce Department arrangement expired, and ICANN’s babyminding connected its shift toward a broader, more globalized structure.

Other groups that manage key aspects of internet communications have altered structures. The Internet Engineering Task Force, for instance, is a autonomous abstruse alignment open to anyone. There are drawbacks to that approach, but it would have lessened both the absoluteness and acumen of U.S. control.

This 2007 photo shows an Iranian nuclear accessory ability in Natanz, which was allegedly the target of the first known cyberweapon to cause concrete damage. AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian

2010: War comes online

In June 2010, cybersecurity advisers appear the analysis of a adult cyber weapon called Stuxnet, which was advised accurately to target accessories used by Iran’s effort to advance nuclear weapons. It was among the first known agenda attacks that absolutely caused concrete damage.

Almost a decade later, it’s clear that Stuxnet opened the eyes of governments and other online groups to the achievability of wreaking cogent havoc through the internet. These days, nations use cyberattacks with accretion regularity, advancing a range of aggressive and even noncombatant targets.

There’s absolutely cause for hope for online peace and community, but these decisions – along with many others – have shaped cyberspace and with it millions of people’s daily lives. Reflecting on those past choices can help inform accessible decisions – such as how all-embracing law should apply to cyberattacks, or whether and how to adapt bogus intelligence.

Maybe 50 years from now, events in 2019 will be seen as addition key axis point in the development of the internet.