Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Bob Buderi, Xconomy founder and World Frontiers Forum president, kicked off the conference.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

It was a packed house---lots of name badges to sift through.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

People arrived early for this event so they wouldn't miss a second.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

During the conference's first talk, Juan Enriquez of Excel Venture Management shared the story of the first message sent over the ARPANET: "LO." It was the result of a glitch; the message was supposed to say "LOGIN."

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Enriquez's talk was a call to action, urging people to celebrate internet pioneers such as Radia Perlman. He argued that their creation has had an impact on more people than landing on the moon.

Photo by John Werner

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Robert Kahn, formerly of BBN and DARPA, gave a spotlight talk about managing digital information.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

After Kahn (center) gave his talk, he joined fellow internet pioneers to share war stories. From L to R: Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler, formerly of SRI International; Radia Perlman of Dell Technologies; Kahn; Dave Clark of MIT; Leonard Kleinrock of UCLA; and Vint Cerf of Google.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Cerf guided the conversation in style.

Photo by John Werner

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

An undergraduate student in Kleinrock's lab, Charley Kline, sent that first "LO" over the ARPANET. Kleinrock noted the irony of using a telephone to invent the technology that would kill it.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Perlman and her peers were all smiles on stage as they reminisced. One of her crucial innovations, the Spanning Tree Protocol, was a "crude hack" not meant to last very long, she said.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

So many moments worth capturing.

Photo by John Werner

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Akamai's Tom Leighton and ClearSky Data's Ellen Rubin talked about the power of edge computing and the latest cybersecurity trends. Some of it was frightening, and all of it was fascinating.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte argued for internet connectivity as a human right.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

There were lots of thought-provoking discussions.

Photo by John Werner

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

All that discussion is making me hungry.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Always good opportunities for mingling at these conferences.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

ClearSky's Rubin (center) and Wade Roush (right), an Xconomy contributor and Soonish podcast host, chatted with an attendee.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Neil Gershenfeld of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms moderated a series of short talks looking beyond the edges of today's internet, including the shrinking boundaries between digital and physical.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Cornell Tech's Deborah Estrin stressed the importance of technology developers and users figuring out how to balance personalization and privacy.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Eric Paley of venture capital firm Founder Collective talked about how many amazing inventions don't achieve commercial success. Often, the ideas that scale are "trivial," or at least seem that way.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Nadya Peek, an engineering professor at the University of Washington, shared the latest advances in fabrication laboratories and efforts to rethink how we make things.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

World-renowned musician Peter Gabriel has been working with researchers to communicate with animals using music and potentially the internet.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Diana Reiss, a Hunter College psychology professor, thinks communicating with other species via the internet might lead to improved conservation efforts.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Cerf suggests if humans figure out how to talk to animals, it might help us if we ever need to communicate with extraterrestrials.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Naturally, there were lots of questions.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Wade Roush (far right) sought cures for social media's ails from security expert Juliette Kayyem (center) of Grip Mobility Technology and Emerson Collective's Raffi Krikorian, a former Twitter exec. They called their discussion the "buzzkill session," but it wasn't all doom and gloom.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Audience members were left in deep thought.

Photo by John Werner

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Speaking of thoughts, Danny Hillis of Applied Invention is pretty sure we're headed toward people's brains being connected to the internet via implantable devices. But it will play out over 50 years. (That's moderator Kara Miller of WGBH on the right and Bob Metcalfe of the University of Texas on the left.)

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Metcalfe is an optimistic guy, but sometimes the internet's challenges can feel a bit overwhelming.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

John Roese of Dell EMC joined Metcalfe, Hillis, and Miller on stage. One of Roese's predictions? Technology will get better at not only enabling human-to-human communication, but enhancing it.

Photo by John Werner

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Thanks to all of the speakers for giving their time and sharing their ideas.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Living legends of the internet gathered on stage for photos.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Internet pioneers signed maps of early computer networks. Juan Enriquez (right) organized the effort.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

They swapped stories, too. Not sure whose shoe that is.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Time for more discussions, now with drinks in hand.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Great view from the Media Lab's sixth floor.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Peter Gabriel hung out with attendees and took selfies with some (OK, many).

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Deborah Estrin chatted with guests.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Speakers got their portraits taken in the reception area.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Jake Feinler (right) talked with attendees.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

After the conference, speakers and attendees continued the celebration with a dinner at nearby Café ArtScience in Kendall Square.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Dinner and drinks were quite tasty.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Leonard Kleinrock enjoyed the art in ArtScience.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

The evening was filled with friends catching up and people making new connections.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Android co-founder Rich Miner (right) mingled with Tim Rowe of the Cambridge Innovation Center.

Photo by John Werner

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

John Roese and Radia Perlman exchanged info.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Café ArtScience staff like to experiment with tastes and smells.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Café ArtScience founder David Edwards gave instructions for enjoying the special "floating daiquiri" prepared for the internet pioneers.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Bob Metcalfe is intrigued.

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Net@50: The Roots and Future of the Internet

Cheers and thank you to all the pioneers, speakers, sponsors, and attendees!

© 2019 Patankar Photography & Design

Xconomy Boston — 

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.

And special thanks to Keith Patankar of Patankar Photography & Design and John Werner of Link Ventures for taking photos.