It was on this day that the first message was sent on ARPANET, the forerunner of the internet. I wish I could tell you that this message — which was sent from UCLA to Stanford — said “Paul is dead,” or maybe “turn me on, dead man.” It only seems right that the first thing communicated over the net should be a conspiracy theory. But alas, the actual text was simply two letters:

lo

Not, it should be noted, as in “lo and behold”; the intended message had been the word “login,” but the system crashed after the first two characters (shades of things to come). An hour later the bug was fixed and the full message was sent successfully.

50 years later, the internet makes many of our important decisions for us, from what song’s going to play next to who’s going to be president. We’ve come a long way, baby.