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Professor Justin Zobel
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In late 1980's Australia, BuzzFeed was a distant dream, Facebook sounded like a non sequitur and 'the cloud' resided only in the sky. But all that was to change with the arrival of the internet to our shores on June 24th 1989 — exactly 25 years ago today.

A 'ping' originating in Hawaii and bounced across the Pacific to a computer located at the University of Melbourne's then Department of Computer Science (now Computing and Information Systems).

The subject line of what was probably the first email sent via the link was to the point: it simply read ‘Link Up’.

The message was sent by Torben Nielsen, who had been funded by NASA to set up internet links with countries throughout the Pacific.

The current Head of the department, Professor Justin Zobel, says Melbourne University was chosen as the site for the nation’s first connection primarily because of the work of resident tech guru Robert Elz (right), who'd already been central to the establishment of networks within Australia.

It was an elaborate journey for Australia’s first ping. The message travelled over a cable between Melbourne and Sydney, via satellite across the Pacific Ocean to the US West Coast and then back through another cable to Hawaii.

According to Professor Zobel, the internet helped to create itself.

“Initially, bandwidth was low, and it could only be used for material such as emails, code, and news postings. But what is sometimes overlooked about the early days of the internet is that it enabled the exchange of ideas and software that led to the development of the more sophisticated technologies we use today."

"The modern internet – and its best known ‘passenger’, the web – largely rests on open-source code built by the vast community of developers who have since its inception used the internet to work collaboratively across the globe."

“It has changed the way we find things, through Google. It has changed the way we think about knowledge, through Wikipedia. It has changed the way we communicate, with email and Skype. It has changed how we consume music and video, via downloads and streaming.

"It has changed how we socialise, shop, bank, travel, and work. And, via our devices, and via the devices embedded in the systems we use, it touches our lives almost continuously."

"The impact on our society is all-encompassing."

See how The Age covered the 10th anniversary in 1999.
(Click to enlarge)