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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(n.) the opening programs of a computer system; the first word ever broadcast over the internet

code on a laptop computer screen

Pub quiz trivia alert—on Monday, we tweeted the fact that the very first word ever sent over the internet was login.

Except... it kinda wasn’t. So here’s the full story.

On 29 October 1969, UCLA student Charley Kline attempted to transmit the word “LOGIN” from one computer to another using what was at the time known as the “Arpanet”—a precursor to the modern internet—which connected computers together using an IMP, or “interface message processor”. Unfortunately, the system crashed almost immediately, and only the first two letters of login were transmitted. So the first message ever sent online, ultimately, was “LO”.

With the problem fixed, an hour later Kline attempted to send the message again. This time, the entire word “LOGIN” was delivered in full.

So login might be the first word ever sent over the internet, but in an oddly prescient way the first three characters ever sent online were “LOL”. Plus ça change.


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