The first word ever sent on the internet was an accident

ArpanetComputer Science Museum/Wikimedia CommonsThis is the log of the first transmission.

The contemporary internet is filled to absolutely bursting with words. In fact, there are some who believe there are too many words on the internet, that people should censor themselves just a tad more often. But this wasn’t always the case.

In 1969, when the pioneers of the web were tinkering with ARPANET — the precursor to the modern internet — even one word was a big deal. In October of 1969, researchers at UCLA and Stanford were working on a simple problem: getting the message from one campus to another.

At 9:00 p.m., UCLA’s professor Leonard Kleinrock and his student Charley Kline were ready to attempt the first transmission that would travel a few hundred miles up California to Stanford. The message wasn’t meant to be anything fancy, simply the word “login.” But they didn’t quite make it there.

The pair succeeded in transmitting the “l” and the “o,” but then an event familiar to anyone who has used the internet happened: the system crashed. They were able to send the full message of “login” about an hour later, but this chapter in the history of the internet had already been written.

Accidentally or not, Kleinrock and Kline didn’t just send a series of letters, they technically sent a word. “Lo,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is an interjection “used to call attention to something or to show wonder or surprise.”

As in, “Lo, the internet is born!”

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