The Internet Age

The power to navigate the world at the click of a mouse is a force that is transforming our lives like none before

In October, 1969, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles were ready for a critical experiment. They had set up a computer and communications node while colleagues installed similar equipment in Menlo Park, Calif. Now they would test whether they could link computers over telephone lines to operate as one system. Once the line between the two teams was open, the researchers at UCLA began slowly tapping out a message, "login," to activate the link. The system crashed.

Such was the genesis of the Internet Age. By the end of the month, the teams linked the computers in a demonstration that captivated their bankrollers at the Pentagon. The brass hats would eventually create a nationwide ring of computers and telephone lines designed to keep functioning even if a nuclear attack took out part of the network. That idea, jazzed up with software that makes information easy to read and lets us navigate the Net with a mouse click, has become the force that is transforming our lives like none before.

HUMBLED. Anyone with a computer is a citizen of the world--and a richer world at that. The musings of Leonardo da Vinci, your granddaughter's refrigerator-door art, a Presidential news conference, or a list of your supplier's inventory of a critical component are within reach. At this point, we can only imagine where the technology will lead us.

The Internet Age

Certainly the early impact of the Internet is profound, particularly for business. Upstarts with a T1 line and buckets of cash are humbling companies that once seemed impregnable. Financial markets are becoming more efficient for people who want to invest or raise money.

In fact, efficiency may be the watchword of the Net. It provides the means to break down bureaucracies; challenge corporate, governmental, and intellectual orthodoxies; and foster a stronger sense of community. Such developments have sparked more than one revolution. There's no reason to expect anything less this time.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.