A Visit With an IMP

I love to recall the Tom Paxton quote about nostalgia: “It’s OK to look back, as long as you don’t stare.” Yesterday was one of those days, being the formal grand opening of Klienrock Internet Heritage Site and Archive at 3420 BH (Boelter Hall at UCLA), as well as being the birthday of the Internet. You did send a card, didn’t you?

Seriously, yesterday was the anniversary of the first communication (called a message, but it was decidedly not email) between two Interface Message Processors (IMPs) connecting UCLA and SRI. A grand party was held at UCLA, and those of us who were around for the early days of the Internet were invited back to campus for the grand unveiling. Take that, plus free parking in Lot 9, and you had me.

We drove in through Westwood. Sad, sad, sad. Loads and loads of vacant storefronts. Not a single bookstore. One famous theatre torn down; another closed. Seemingly, only chain restaurants. It is a dead student town and is sad. I really remember the days when Westwood was vibrant, back in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. It will take some radical work (and radical lowering of rents) to get that energy back.

Arriving at UCLA, we went to the event. More people had shown up that the organizers expected. It was backed up into the hallway between 3400 and the elevator. This made it difficult to mingle and see who all was there, but I did recognize a few folks (WSU, DAS) and a few folks recognized me. We got a chance to listen to some interesting talks from Dr. Kleinrock (who was the UCLA lead and designer of packet switching), Mark Kampe, Charley Klein, and others. After the speeches, I got a chance to talk and reminisce with some friends (I hesitate to say old friends, as that reminds me we’re getting old) from UCLA Computer Club days. That was truly a unique institution, and I miss it.

We then walked down to Ackerman Union, and I was saddened at all the growth and change on south campus. Buildings, buildings everywhere: They’ve built a new building over the side of Lot 9; they’ve built new space where the nuclear reactor was; there’re bulding between the two halves of the 2nd Floor of Boelter. They’ve torn down Engineering I, and are have built a new Engineering V and are building Engineering VI. There’s no grass; nary a bit of free space.

I thought about what is gone and the impact of change. Of course, the Computer Club is gone; who needs an institution like that to get computer access. However, the ESUC lounge is also gone; I have no idea if the ESUC is room is gone from the rotunda. I walked up to the Math Science Addition to see what happened to the old CCN space. The terminal rooms and output bin rooms have all become offices. What had been the mainframe room is now a “technology sandcase”. Over at Ackerman Union, the place was completely redone. Gone was the Coop, the Foosball tables, the Air Hockey. In was a load of chain fast food joints. This filled up most of both the 1st and A levels. On the B level, the bookstore was totally redone, although they did have a great art pen section. It is sad to think that the UCLA bookstore is the only bookstore remaining in Westwood.

As we left, I wanted to hit Record Surplus on Pico. To my surprise, they were gone. My wife did some investigation after we got home, and the good news is they only moved: they are now at Santa Monica and Centinela. At least some things remain.