Pal Spilling is a Norwegian computer pioneer whose early interest in computer networking resulted in Norway getting the first ARPANET node outside of the United States, in 1973. Fifteen years later, the nascent Internet saw its first widespread infection by self-replicating code: Morris, a worm that could install multiple copies of itself on the same computer, causing infected systems to grind to a halt. As the Morris worm began to spread in the United States, Spilling’s American colleagues called to warn him; faced with a threat to his nation’s entire network of computers, he acted quickly and disconnected Norway from the rest of the Internet, which at the time could be done by unplugging a single cable.
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