50 may be the new 35, but it still looks like middle-age to the younger set. On this date in 1969 an attempt to send the message “login” from a computer at UCLA to another computer at the Stanford Research Institute was thwarted by a computer crash. But that was just a speed bump on the Information Superhighway. Here we are, 50 years later, with not only a fully functioning global computer network, but an interactive means of communication that has literally taken the world by storm. Amazon, Alphabet (parent company of Google) and Apple, among others, owe their fortunes to this network of connected computers and devices. ARPANET gave way to the Internet, which gave way to the World Wide Web, and then Web 2.0, a more interactive service that relied as much on user-generated content as it did on corporate media content providers. Social media and online gaming have become huge consumers of our time and attention, and streaming video, (much of it delivered via YouTube), consumes most of the bandwidth. And the Internet of Things (IoT) coupled with AI may be the most disruptive update yet.
Anniversaries are typically a time to remember beginnings and celebrate accomplishments…of which there are many. But on this 50th year anniversary we’re also left to wonder what will come of the next 50. As Samuel Morse said on the birthday of the telegraph, “What hath God wrought?” Indeed.