inventors

In the 1960s Paul Baran developed packet switching

geek visionary Paul Baran 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"

When was internet invented: J.C.R. Licklider guides 1960s ARPA Vision

A true geek visionary J.C.R. LickliderIn the 1960s the vision of a worldwide network of computers by Dr. Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider would lead to the ARPANET.

With the Soviet Union's launching of Sputnik, the first orbiting satellite, in 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to address the needs of technology research and development.

The goal of ARPA was to address the technology needs of the U.S Department of Defense. ARPA would be the parent of the computer network of the ARPANET.

Licklider guides ARPA Vision

J.C.R. Licklider, known by friends, colleagues, and casual acquaintances as "Lick," was the first to describe the concept he called the "Galactic Network."

In the paper “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” published in 1960, Licklider provided a guide for decades of computer research to follow.  He envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from any site.

In October 1962, Licklider was appointed head of the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) at ARPA, the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The IPTO funded the research that led to the development of the ARPANET.

During his time as director of ARPA's Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) Licklider funded a research project headed by Robert Fano at MIT called Project MAC, a large mainframe computer that was designed to be shared by up to 30 simultaneous users, each sitting at a separate typewriter terminal. Project MAC (the Project on Mathematics and Computation) would develop groundbreaking research in operating systems, artificial intelligence, and the theory of computation.

Licklider sought out the leading computer research institutions in the U.S. and set up research contracts with them. Soon there were about a dozen universities and companies working on ARPA contracts including Stanford, UCLA, and Berkeley. Lick jokingly nicknamed his group the Intergalactic Computer Network. This group would later form the core who created the ARPANET.

Why was the internet created: 1957 Sputnik launches ARPA

Geek History explores why was the internet created: 1957 Sputnik launches ARPA

One of the often debated questions is what was the original reason for creating the internet.

1957: Sputnik launches ARPA

With the Soviet Union's launching of Sputnik, the first orbiting satellite, in 1957, President Dwight Eisenhower created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to address the needs of technology research and development.

While many people contributed to the creation of the internet along the way, many of the early contributors to the internet were working on the project on behalf of ARPA.

The catalyst for the creation of ARPA was the launch of Sputnik, along with the tensions of the cold war in 1957. The goal of ARPA was to address the technology needs of the U.S Department of Defense. ARPA would be the parent of the computer network of the ARPANET.

According to the DARPA website:

"For more than fifty years, DARPA has held to a singular and enduring mission: to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security."

"The genesis of that mission and of DARPA itself dates to the launch of Sputnik in 1957, and a commitment by the United States that, from that time forward, it would be the initiator and not the victim of strategic technological surprises."

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