Birth of the Internet at UConn

John (Jack) Roulier, one of the pioneers at UConn who established the internet on campus, shutting down the old server for good at the Information Technologies Engineering Building (ITE) on June 25, 2019. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

In a ceremony held at the end of June, in the Information Technologies Engineering Building, John Marshall stepped up to a computer, entered a short line of code, and shut down a server that served as the last known artifact linking the University of Connecticut to its earliest connections to the internet.

Marshall, who worked for the UConn School of Engineering from 1976-2009, served as the ceremonial shutdown appointee because of his role in originally setting up that server, and connecting UConn’s first users to the internet.

The story goes that when faculty members from the University of Connecticut Computer Science Department were clamoring for a connection to internet in the late 1980s, Marshall decided he had to take action.

With the internet in its infancy, and primarily used as a way to transmit emails and files between different users, only higher education institutions and government entities had allocated resources towards building the infrastructure needed to connect to this burgeoning technology, but UConn still hadn’t committed to the technology yet in the late 1980s.

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