In the 1960s, Paul Baran, one of the founding fathers of the internet as a researcher at RAND, developed the concept of packet switching as an integral part of the new technology that would become the internet.
One of the key differences between communications before the internet, to the way information flowed with the new standards known as Internet Protocol, is the concept of packet switching.
Throughout the standard for Internet Protocol you will see the description of packet switching, "fragment and reassemble internet datagrams when necessary for transmission through small packet networks." A message is divided into smaller parts known as packets before they are sent. Each packet is transmitted individually and can even follow different routes to its destination. Once all the packets forming a message arrive at the destination, they are recompiled into the original message.
After joining the RAND Corporation in 1959, Baran took on the task of designing a "survivable" communications system that could maintain communication between end points in the face of damage from nuclear weapons.
RAND was a think tank that focused mostly on cold war related military issues, and was looking for communications systems that would survive a nuclear attack. An article on the RAND website, "Paul Baran and the Origins of the Internet," states that Paul Baran offered a solution "to communicate in the aftermath of a nuclear attack." It is often debated as whether RAND's view was the primary goal of the ARPANET.
Baran's concept of packet switching was part of this work, as it allowed for a system that could route traffic around an area if there was a problem, packets would simply be routed around it.
In 1969, when the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) started developing the idea of an inter-networked set of terminals to share computing resources, the reference materials which they considered included Baran and the RAND Corporation's "On Distributed Communications"
The RAND name originated as a contraction of Research and Development. RAND continues to operate today as a nonprofit research and analysis institution across a broad range of subjects.