Internet birthplace to be preserved for future generations

THENinternet.jpgThis is the room where the Internet was born, 3420 Boelter Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles.

NOWinternet.jpgThis is the same room, 42 years later. Until recently, nobody knew exactly which room had housed the lab where the first ARPANET message was sent. But, now that it's been pinpointed as 3420 Boelter, there's work underway to restore the room to its 1969 appearance, and preserve it as a historic site. The Kleinrock Internet Heritage Site and Archive opens June 1st. The lower photo was taken during a pre-opening tour led by Paleofuture blogger, Matt Novak.


  1. A friend of mine who became a multi-millionaire in electronics became very interested in electronics working in the psych lab at Kent State University. I remember going into the lab (very early 70’s) and seeing the old Nixy tube counters etc and being awe struck, having no idea of the revolution to come..

  2. Can they please, please, please also include the geeks in the mod clothes? That is the best part.

    1. Exactly what I was thinking. The nerds wearing bell bottoms, crazy facial hair, and coke-bottle glasses are as much a part of the history as the machines.

    1. If you’re going to bait people out with an Al Gore joke, make sure you know what he said way back then.

      Al Gore never claimed to have invented anything. However, he was very progressive in his legislation helping to build a young Internet and should be recognized thus. Not much to joke about except that Gore was misquoted a lot.

      1. Hmmm, I don’t see how that snopes article helps your case. So he said “created” instead of “invented”

        “I took the initiative in creating the Internet”

        It sounds basically the same to me.

  3. Hey, does anyone know what sort of plastic that is on top of the old metal desk?

    I’ve got that same model desk, but the plastic is looking pretty rough and I’d like to replace it with something similar.

    1. I think most of the plastic topped desks in that era used Formica. You can still get a lot of the classic patterns from them! I think it was usually over a plywood substrate as the modern particle board (or “medium density fiberboard”) wasn’t in common use yet. The edges were usually banded with an aluminum backed rubber bumper. I had one desk with a really sweet profile on the rubber, and really cool aluminum drawer pulls, but unfortunately didn’t have room to move it into out of the last warehouse I moved from. Sigh.

  4. @codesuidae i was there on saturday and i can confirm that there was indeed no plastic on the top of that desk.

  5. There’s something very odd about the guy standing to the left of the door, facing the camera. His hair looks like he’s just been electrocuted, and his pose says “wow, that was fun – let’s do it again!” …

  6. Just look at it… crowded, fluorescent lights, humming electronics, geeky attendants. If the Internet had been born underwater in a sage smoke-infused teepee, surrounded by candles and love, we’d certainly be living in a different world.

  7. I was about to get all sentimental and talk about how they were innocently working on something that didn’t know would change the world but then I saw this under the story.

    “Kathy Griffin Tweets Topless Photo of Herself!”

    Now I just want to go back in time and stop them.

  8. That first photo looks suspiciously like a Dharma Initiative archive photo. Come to think of it… so does the second one.

  9. I thought CERN invented the internet by developing the first web server, taking it from a radio switching network to what we recognize as the primordial ‘net.
    If they didn’t, what then did they invent again for the internet?
    it was something anyways…gotta look that up.

    1. CERN came up with the precursor to HTML, basically they created the concept of embedded links that could take you to a related place. The military created the first linked computers that could talk directly over dedicated lines – that is what this is all about.

      @The Unusual Suspect – Wrong about Gore: He would have been a disaster as a President. He took credit for his role in Congress, voting for a bill that gave out money with which defense contractors created the first linked up computers.

  10. 3420 Boelter? How exciting! I must have passed that room multiple times when I was an undergrad there.

  11. Spent many a late night at Boelter hall redoing those damn punch cards for a quick run. Anyone remember JCL.

  12. I thought CERN invented the internet by developing the first web server…

    Yes, they created the WWW, but Internet does not equal World Wide Web. Email, for example, was running on the Internet before there was a WWW.

  13. Hypertext existed long before Tim Berners-Lee created http, it just was used via text based terminals not graphical front ends.

    If we’re into preserving buildings, why not 10 Moulton St. in Cambridge, you know, the place the hardware was built (IMP). The software was only half of the solution :)

  14. @Anon – yes, JCL (or Job Control Language) is still in use. In fact, I use it to start the web server on the IBM mainframe at the place I work (and for many, many other uses). Though its syntax is not the friendliest, and it was invented to fit within 72 columns of an 80-column punched card (the other 8 columns were reserved for sequence numbering), JCL could be considered one of the orignal ‘script’ languages since its main purpose was to abstract file and control information out of programs – think of it as a proto-.bat .

  15. Spending most of my time in Boelter Hall as a CS&E undergrad, I thought it was the ugliest building at UCLA, but now I’m proud. I remember hearing about ARPANET, but never made the connection with that building.

  16. What Al Gore actually said is: “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet”. Still pretty pompous and self-serving, especially since the Internet was already starting up before he was elected to Congress. This guy oozes groundless self regard.

  17. I’m pretty sure that the birth of the internet took place at CERN, in switzerland; along with the help of Tim Bernards-Lee: “On 25 December 1990, with the help of Robert Cailliau and a young student at CERN, he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet.”

    Wasn’t ARPANET just the source of TCP/IP? In which case you should be crediting the birth of the internet to Alexander Graham Bell; if all we’re considering is the basic principle of data being transfered over a distance.

    I know Americans love crediting themselves with inventing the internet, but I’m pretty sure it’s not actually true.

  18. Yes, once again, of course Al Gore never said he *invented* the Internet. He said he *created* it. What’s more, he said he *took the inititive* to do so, meaning he claimed he was the first.

    You will remember (now that I am reminding you) that it was this claim of creating the Internet that caused the uproar in the media. It was a week or so later that the spin doctors on Gore’s presidential campaign committee issued their classic “non-denial denial” that he never claimed he *invented* anything.

    Oh, and incidentally, Gore also made the noob mistake of failing to distinguish between the Internet and the Web.

    Thanks for the money, Al. It was very helpful. And you would have made a much better president than Bush. But you never took the initiative in creating the Internet.

  19. The guy next to the door, facing the camera, looks like Charlie Kline. Can anyone confirm this?

  20. I agree on Charlie. Who are the other two guys? I spent many a night in this room working on my dissertation – remember photo-typesetters?

  21. I recant, the photo-typsetter wasn’t in 3420, but it was in the room where the IMP was. 3420 is across the hall.

  22. Yeah, Yeah – That’s where the internet was invented; If the pictures were bigger, You’d see that the Internet boxes (IMPs) were made by BBN in Cambridge, MA, were set up and run there before being sent out to CA so these folks could usurp the glory.

  23. I’d like to suggest that the Internet itself was actually born where it was built, at Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) in Cambridge Mass. Perhaps its first words were spoken from its installation in California.

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