I don't know if anyone is going celebrate this particular birthday, but in 2011, the computer virus turns 40. Although we seem to know the year, the exact date is a little hazy. I first saw a piece about the the virus's birthday on Physorg, but the details were sketchy. So I called up Chris Garcia, a curator at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. What I discovered is no secret, but doesn't seem to get much coverage: the first virus was intentional, written in-house and deployed over a network without malicious intent.
According to Garcia, the virus, called Creeper, was written in 1971 by Cambridge, Mass.-based BBN computer programmer Robert (Bob) Thomas. BBN, which stands for Bold, Beranek and Newman (and today is now Raytheon BBN Technologies), built packet switching networks for ARPANET. If you don't already know, ARPANET was the precursor to the Internet. It was a DARPA-sponsored network launched in December, 1969, and populated by universities, government institutions and some technology companies.