Last week marked a historic occasion. As the world commemorated the 50th anniversary of humankind setting foot on the moon for the first time, Xconomy and the World Frontiers Forum convened an incredible group at the MIT Media Lab to celebrate another monumental achievement a half century ago: the birth of the internet.
The Net@50 conference held July 16 featured a star-studded lineup of speakers, including internet pioneers Robert Kahn, Radia Perlman, Vint Cerf, Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler, Bob Metcalfe, and Leonard Kleinrock; executives from Akamai Technologies and Dell EMC; researchers and thought leaders from MIT, Cornell Tech, and the University of Washington; and musician and internet evangelist Peter Gabriel. (See photos above.)
The internet innovators shared stories, some awe-inspiring and some mirthful, about the net’s early years. They also took stock of how their creation has evolved, for good and ill, since the first message was sent over the ARPANET—the precursor to today’s internet—in October 1969. And several discussions explored the internet’s future, with speakers debating ways to fix social media and even contemplating the possibility of hooking up people’s brains directly to the internet.
The program came about thanks to the efforts of Juan Enriquez, Bob Buderi, and our stellar steering committee. John Vittal helped track down an amazing group of internet pioneers, many of them based in the Boston area.
We’ll publish another post soon with more takeaways from the event, but for now, please enjoy the photo slideshow. You can also watch videos of the entire event by clicking here. (We also ran a special series of stories, by Wade Roush and Brian Dowling, which predict the internet’s next 50 years, trace the roots of internet security issues, and provide in-depth Q&As with Radia Perlman, Bob Metcalfe, and Don Norman.)
Big thanks to our co-host, MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (led by Neil Gershenfeld), and to the MIT Media Lab for providing a wonderful space. Huge thanks to our platinum sponsors, Dell Technologies and Google, and our gold sponsor, Akamai.