The Internet Was Invented in Hawaii

I usually don’t talk about computers, but I can’t pass up this little tidbit of computational history.

To be more accurate, the ALOHA protocol for packet switching was invented at the University of Hawaii and successfully applied in the ALOHAnet, a precursor to Ethernet on which the Internet runs. It’s actually a simple packet protocol with a high collision rate, which is therefore rather inefficient (18% throughput max), but still close to the best you can do in certain cases such as Wi-Fi. From the Wikipedia article:

Norm Abramson was a professor of engineering at Stanford, but was also an avid surfer. After visiting Hawaii in 1969, he inquired at the University of Hawaii if they were interested in hiring a professor of engineering. He joined the staff in 1970 and started working on a radio-based data communications system to connect the Hawaiian islands together, with funding from Larry Roberts.

By late 1970 the system was already in use, the world’s first wireless packet-switched network. Abramson then managed to get an IMP from Roberts and connected ALOHAnet to the ARPANET on the mainland in 1972. It was the first time another network was connected to the ARPAnet, although others would soon follow.

And since I assume from the rest of the article that Kauai was connected to that first network, I can talk about it here. I wonder if they called it surfing back then…

And no, I don’t think Al Gore had anything to do with it.

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  1. Mark says:

    I thought it was the precursor to the Ethernet… and not the Internet. You still needed the adaptor, the IMP ( to get hooked up to the ARPANET.

    What difference does it make? Hmm, not sure. Maybe it’s that Ethernet is essentially a surfing technology, whereas the Internet Protocols were dreamed up for the military?

    What I like about Ethernet is that it’s much more like dinner conversation or a coffee break with everybody at the same level on the bus. It doesn’t have to be so highly regimented to work. But maybe that really doesn’t scale.

  2. Andy says:

    You’re right, I am simplifying because I can no longer be bothered to make the technical distinction. That’s what let’s people say things like: ” invented the internet .”

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