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The Internet's Birthday: Reflecting on 50 years of connectivity

Posted at 8:42 PM, Oct 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 07:03:07-04

The internet officially turned 50-years-old Tuesday.

In 1969, a message from a professor at UCLA to Stanford crashed their computer. It was supposed to read, "login" but the computer crashed after the first two letters. It wasn't much, but it was the start to what we now know as the internet.

"Our generation grew up with the internet," Claire Friona, Junior at MSOE said. "It was just sort of ingrained in our lives from the time we were born."

"It's hard to think of an aspect of my life it doesn't impact," Errin Miller, Sophomore at MSOE said. "Especially for information gathering. Being able to look something up if I have a wayward thought. It's so easy to find information about something."

While the internet may be celebrating 50 years, the internet as we know it has evolved tremendously over the last 30 years. The sound of modems dialing in were the melody of access in the 90s.

"They've never heard of a modem," Steven Williams, Professor and Chair of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MSOE said. "The digital natives, that's what we call them."

Williams has lived through the internet age and seen it evolve.

"I remember when I ran into my colleague's office in the 80s and said, I transmitted a document over this thing they call the internet," Williams said. "My students have ready access to pretty much all of the information that's been created by humanity."

It's something that's changed how Williams teaches and how students learn. There are more MacBooks than library books in students' hands. Knowledge is gained in an instant as opposed to countless hours researching a textbook.

And, for first year students in college, it helps them feel connected to home so they can better focus on their studies without feeling homesick.

"I can chat with family and friends without thinking about it," Warren Burton a freshman at MSOE from South Africa said. "It's much quicker now. Things aren't lagging. It just works."