The Day I Discovered The Internet

University of Pennsylvania (1986)
University of Pennsylvania (1986)

My first computer was a 1982 Apple IIe. It was a gift from my parents that kept my brother and I entertained through many sleepless nights playing Olymipic Decathlon and Flight Simulator. But it was a Pascal compiler that occupied most of my time and has influenced my every day, ever since. Being able to code on a home computer was a real treat as I had all of the computing power I could possibly need in a small dyed plastic beige casing on my desk.

Despite the computing power and convenience, it still felt as something was missing.

It wasn’t until four years later during the summer of 1986 that I first discovered (but didn’t invent) the Internet. I was about to start my computer science graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and it was love at first sight. While I credit AUP (and specifically Dr. David Masters) for helping me discover the art and science of computer programming, it is at UPenn that I first logged into a UNIX workstation, fingered people online, sent my first email, and transferred my first file over the Internet.

Coincidentally, the Internet start taking shape in 1986 with nearly all computer science departments and many private research sites in the U.S. connecting to CSNET. In turn, CSNET connected to other networks such as BITNET, UUCP, Usenet and NASA’s SPAN. All these networks communicated with TCP/IP and came to be collectively called the Internet, with about 5,000 hosts at the time.

Earlier this year, I decided to go on an online fishing expedition to see if I could find any evidence of my first encounter with the Internet. Today, there are approximately one billion hosts on the Internet, and traces of my first email and file transfer are nowhere to be found. However, to my great astonishment, I was able to find my first Usenet post thanks to Google, which integrated the past 20 years of Usenet archives into Google Groups and offers access to more than 800 million messages dating back to 1981.

So here it is, my first post dated March 28, 1987:

Newsgroups: mod.computers.vax
Subject: (none)
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 28-Mar-87 13:09:58 EST
Article-I.D.: grasp.8703281809.AA14970
Posted: Sat Mar 28 13:09:58 1987
Date-Received: Sun, 29-Mar-87 12:41:57 EST
Sender: daemon@ucbvax.BERKELEY.EDU
Distribution: world
Organization: The ARPA Internet
Lines: 17

I would strongly appreciate if anyone could provide me
with information concerning the problem of trying to:


Any information concerning papers related to this subject
or actual implementations would be of great help, and can
be sent to:

A summary of the responses will be posted.


Paul Tocatlian

It is worth noting that to this day my question has gone unanswered. So do not bother looking for a summary of the responses. You’re better off taking a tour of Silicon Valley, Geekman Style. Keep in mind that whatever you post on the Internet may live on for a very long time.

Let’s make the world a better place!

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglass.

The Center for Innocent Children in Vietnam needs your help! By contributing to the Happy Planet Children fundraising campaign, you are making the statement that despite being abandoned by their families or orphaned, these children deserve a decent childhood, an education, and a chance at a better life. Your willingness to help makes all the difference.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s