50 Years Ago the First Computer Talked

October 29, 2019
Leonard Kleinrock c/o Japan Times/AFP-JIJI
When he got a computer to “talk” 50 years ago, Leonard Kleinrock did not expect it to eventually start shouting.

Part of the Internet Hall of Fame’s inaugural class, Kleinrock was one of the developers of ARPANET, the forerunner of the modern Internet. His laboratory at the University of California-Los Angeles hosted the first ARPANET node computer and in October 1969, directed the network’s first transmission. 

In a recent interview with the Japan Times, Kleinrock acknowledged that the Internet’s less benevolent uses, such as the amplification of hate speech or misinformation, have become more widespread than he could have contemplated back in its early days. However, to him, those problems do not outweigh the progress that has been made possible over the last 50 years. 

“I do still worry. I think everyone is feeling the impact of this very dark side of the internet that has bubbled up,” Kleinrock said. “I still feel that the benefits are far more significant; I wouldn’t turn off the internet if I could.”