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October 29, 1969: “Lo”: The First Computer-to-Computer Message

Posted October 29, 2006 6:00 AM by Steve Melito

On this day in engineering history, the first computer-to-computer message was sent when SDS Sigma 7 Host computer at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) transmitted a one-word message to an SDS 940 Host computer at the Stanford Research Institute (SRS). The transmission medium, the U.S. Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency network (ARPANET), was the world's first packet-switching network and the precursor to the modern Internet.

On October 29, 1969 at 10:30 PM, UCLA Professor Leonard Kleinrock and graduate student Charley Klein tried to send a message with the word "log" to SRI's Augmentation Research Center. Although programmers at SRI received the letters "lo", the ARPANET connection crashed before the "g" arrived. A second attempt at sending the word "log" was successful.

"As of now," Kleinrock said at the time, "computer networks are still in their infancy. But as they grow up and become more sophisticated, we will probably see the spread of 'computer utilities' which, like present electric and telephone utilities, will service individual homes and offices across the country."

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Anonymous Poster
#1

Re: October 29, 1969: “Lo”: The First Computer-to-Computer Message

10/29/2006 8:31 PM

Really interesting what the world things was the first computer to computer message.

I was working on the Hughes Aircrafts' SPS-52 Radar System that went to the Nato Air Defense Group. It had a digital computer (H-3118) the size of five large wall lockers. It had a 201 Synchronous Modem Interface and I was sending messages between computers in late 1966 in Fullerton, CA. I wrote a program with machine language code to take song lyrics and send them back and forth. A master H-3118 computer would send the lyric message while the others would buffer as it was received and do a broadside comparison looking for transmission errors. Then they would automatically while running my program turn the line around and send back to the master computer and receive, buffer and compare. This scheme transmitted thousands of messages a day. The engineer that designed the 201 modem controller was Dr. Bob Jackson who had designed modems for ALWAC computers earlier. He thought my message transmission scheme was ingenious. We played chess later by sending messages back and forth from the design center to the system integration area for other H-3118 computers being manufactured. I believe Bob had sent messages between computers at ALWAC long before I did it with him at Hughes. We just didn't advertise what we were doing because it was either proprietary or classified. This Hughes system went into underground silos in NATO countries and the computers HAD to communicate with each other. We were not on ARPANET but we were still communicating between computers using PRIVATE telephone lines.

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Power-User

Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Posts: 136
#2

Re: October 29, 1969: “Lo”: The First Computer-to-Computer Message

10/30/2006 8:06 AM

I agree with guest on it being interesting to see what some people perceive as the first computer to computer message.

As a lowly operator in an IBM 'installation centre' in 1968 and pulling an all-weekender for a customer's project I had a machine (1130) with a slow printer on one side of the room and a machine (360/20) with a fast one on the other. While the first machine 'thought' I had time on my hands, and apparently so did the data centre guys around the continent, so we connected (using bi-synch modems) from my machine on the fourth floor to the datacentre on the second (in Montreal) then from datacentre to datacentre to New York to Washington to Houston to LA to Seattle to Vancouver to Toronto to my 'other machine' in Montreal and I sent my printing around the loop effectively getting it across the room.

My boss wasn't too pleased with the accumulated long distance bill for an hour and a bit of connect time, but we did (unnecessarily as he let me know) demonstrate functionality and reliability.

When the printing finished, the printing computer let the originating computer know through the whole chain that it was done. To me that was a computer-to-computer message.

With the exception of my two machines the remainder of them (big ol' 360's) were all doing other work while relaying the communication, and some of them were 'talking' to other computers at the same time as part of their regular 'RJE' work. Not a public network, perhaps not even a network as we now think of it, but still - all of-the-shelf (at IBM, anyway) equipment.

And none of the operators involved considered it anything more than an amusing, run of the mill Sunday night boredom reliever.

"First" message in 1967? I think you are a decade or two late.

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Guru
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#5
In reply to #2

Re: October 29, 1969: “Lo”: The First Computer-to-Computer Message

11/01/2006 3:10 PM

What's your take on what the title of the original article should be, jtsd? Would you characterize the transmission of 10/29/1969 as the first email? The sender could have typed any ol' word, but decided upon "log".

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Power-User

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: October 29, 1969: “Lo”: The First Computer-to-Computer Message

11/01/2006 4:43 PM

Sorry to take so long to respond... apparently I need to pay more attention to my e-mails.

I guess if it was, indeed, the first non-military or non-creator-test use of ARPANET, then say it as such. "The first user-to-user ARPANET message".

As for machine-machine messages, the telephone system likely was first, with crossbar exchanges being a form of computer. They had registers, clocks, and a multi-rack wonder called a "marker" that performed basically the functions of a CPU. Not completely a stored program machine, but a computing engine nonetheless.

Rather than make exchange-to-exchange connections by directly picking a particular line, crossbar switches were able to select available (unused) lines to a number of 'next' exchanges, pass the entire ten digit number on and the next exchange did the same thing until a link to the home exchange of the called number was determined.

While the call itself went over what was effectively a switched-together ac link, information in the form of numbers, line and exchange conditions, success and failures was passed back and forth between the exchange engines.

That was all working fine in the 1950's.

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Guru

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: October 29, 1969: “Lo”: The First Computer-to-Computer Message

11/24/2006 12:44 PM

Alexander Bain, who is claimed to have invented the first Fax Machine, might be regarded as a 'Strong Contender'

Check out:- http://inventors.about.com/od/bstartinventors/a/fax_machine.htm

Quote:- "The first fax machine was invented by Scottish mechanic and inventor Alexander Bain. In 1843, Alexander Bain received a British patent for "improvements in producing and regulating electric currents and improvements in timepieces and in electric printing and signal telegraphs", in laymen's terms a fax machine....."

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Anonymous Poster
#3

Re: October 29, 1969: “Lo”: The First Computer-to-Computer Message

11/01/2006 2:56 PM

In the Franklin Ohio Local school district one of the students created a series of computers which communicated among each other with light.n The system was created for a science fair in the early 1960's or late 1950's.

The computations were not verbal they were mathematical. The young man who assembled the units was Alan Timberlake who later went to Harvard on an academic scholarship.

My my login is JoeMampy but I seem unable to get a usable passwoord..

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Guru
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#4
In reply to #3

Re: October 29, 1969: “Lo”: The First Computer-to-Computer Message

11/01/2006 3:05 PM

Hi Joe,

Thanks for your comment. Here's a page that you can use to recover your password from CR4. Hope to see you back here soon!

Moose

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