Happy 40th Birthday, Internet!

Posted by Grey Thursday, October 29, 2009

Internet, an integral part of the civilization by now, utilized by more than 1.6 billion people around the world daily, is 40-year-old today.
On this day 40 years ago, Leonard Kleinrock (pictured above), working for UCLA, sent the very first e-mail message (that is of course, before the term "e-mail", were coined) over the ARPANET system (before they called it DARPA) from Los Angeles to the Stanford Research Institute, more than 400 miles away.

What was the content in that fateful email, you must be wondering? lo. A message meant to read as "login", but the computer crashed almost immediately thereafter.

Today, as Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), amongst other major developers gathered to commemorate this day, the internet regulator has approved plans to allow non-Latin-script web addresses, in a move that is set to transform the online world.

The board of Icann had earlier voted at its annual meeting in Seoul to allow domain names in Arabic, Chinese and other scripts. For the uninitiated, as of now, more than half of the 1.6 billion people who use the internet speak languages with non-Latin scripts. The move is being described as the biggest change to the way the internet works since it was created 40 years ago and could be in use next year.

Paving the way for internet's Domain Name System (DNS) to be changed to recognize and translate non-Latin characters, the DNS, which is like a phonebook, turning easily understood domain names into strings of computer-readable numbers, known as Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, will be further evolved to reflect its literal international status.

Icann said it would accept the first applications for IDNs by 16 November, with the first up and running by "mid-2010". Speculations indicated that Chinese and Arabic script, followed by Russian's, are likely to be the majority of early non-Latin net addresses to be approved. Naysayers, though, had expressed their concerns over potential danger that the internet - a tool for culture, information - sharing and dialog on a non-national level, may become irreversibly fragmented.


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