Leonard Kleinrock, who published the first paper on packet switching in 1962, and who led the ARPA-funded team at UCLA that made the first connection on the Internet, described the scene to me on the phone to me a few minutes ago.
Sitting at a computer terminal at UCLA on October 29, 1969, one of Kleinrock’s team members typed two letters that were received via the infant Internet by a computer up the California coast at the Stanford Research Institute. The connection worked beautifully for those two letters–before the receiving computer crashed.
The UCLA team had been trying to send “LOG” as in “LOGIN” (the “IN” would have been sent by the other computer). “We didn’t have a tape recorder, or reporters or anybody else–just myself and one of my programmers there,” Kleinrock told me. “We didn’t understand PR or media–press–the way that Alexander Graham Bell did or Samuel Morse or Armstrong. Those guys were smart. They had it all prepared. But it turns out that the message is probably the shortest, most prophetic message you can have created by accident. The fact is those first two letters spelled a beautiful word: ‘Lo,’ as in ‘Lo and behold!'”
Kleinrock tells the story, complete with whiteboard diagrams, in this video from UCLA: