10-29-internetThe system crashed. They were trying to type LOGIN, and the G didn’t make it. But still. It was something. Foreshadowing. Whatever.

The first Internet message was sent on 29 October 1969 from UCLA to Stanford. To make sure that message was sent is one of the Time Patrol missions in Black Tuesday. Here’s Scout getting the good news and arriving back in time:

29 October 1969. UCLA, California

“The Internet,” Eagle clarified. “It started with ARPANET. Advanced Research Projects Agency Network.”

“And on the 29th of October, 1969,” Dane said, “the very first Internet message was sent from a computer at UCLA to one at Stanford.”

“I don’t know much about computers,” Scout warned, already dreading this.

“You will soon,” Dane said. “The Internet was initially funded by the Department of Defense. Some say it was because they wanted a way to communicate in case of nuclear war, but that’s not correct, at least not initially. The focus was on getting computers, often very different from each other, to communicate with each other. That night, the first message was sent. It wasn’t exactly mind-boggling, like Morse tapping out ‘What hath God wrought’ or Bell saying ‘Come here Watson, I need you.’ The man at UCLA, Charley Kline, was typing in “LOGIN.” He got to the G and the system on the other end, at Stanford, crashed.”

“Exciting,” Scout said. “So what would be the problem? The thing didn’t even really work.”

“It worked,” Dane said. “And from it, we’ve got the Internet we know today. Do you realize how much of our infrastructure relies on the Internet?”

“So the Shadow wants to stop this message from getting through?” Scout asked. “That stops the Internet? Wouldn’t they try the next day?”

“Again,” Dane said, with a bit of exasperation, about as much as the team was feeling, “we don’t know what the Shadow is trying to do. But who knows what even just a day delay in the development of the Internet would do? And maybe the Shadow has its sights set on something bigger than just stopping that message?”

“Okey-dokey,” Scout said. “Why do I get the nerd mission?” She nodded at Doc. “Seems he should be dealing with the computer eggheads.”

“It’s yours,” Dane said with a finality that silenced Scout.

Los Angeles, California, 1969. 29 October

Shifting her focus, Scout caught her reflection in the mirror and grimaced. Her hair was brown, very brown, with no colored streaks, because the hair streaking business was still in the future. She had a part in the middle. Most unattractive and nondescript. But one did have to fit in. Her thin little peasant top revealed she was braless, but her breasts were small, so no issue there.

So. She was a feminist. Victoria’s Secret was still a few decades down the road too and maybe braless was the way to go until someone thought up a pretty bra. She checked the waistband of her low riding jeans and sighed. Yep. Cotton bikini panties. Gross, but thongs were as far off as pretty bras. And thus is the place of underwear in history, she thought.

The sacrifices she made for her duty.

It is 1969. The first man walks on the moon. Joe Namath leads the Jets to a shocking Super Bowl win. The first Led Zeppelin album is released. Faced with pressing needs from the Vietnam War, the first draft lottery since World War II is held. Nixon becomes president. A teenager in St. Louis dies of an undiagnosed disease and it would be 15 years before it’s realized he was the first confirmed death from AIDS in the United States. The Beatles are photographed crossing Abbey Road. Scooby-Doo airs for the first time. And Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Fourteen men, 9 of them Jews, are executed in Baghdad for spying for Israel. Woodstock.

Some things change; some don’t.

As she went toward the door of the small room, it also occurred to Scout that this was the era of free love, which Scout doubted was ever free.

But still. She was only here for a day and then she would be gone.

Scout had a strange feeling. It took her a moment to recognize it: excitement. This could be interesting.

She was sure her mother wouldn’t approve of the feeling or the thought.