ARPANET (2024)

The 1960s signaled the triumph of the computers. For private users, technical devices were usually out of reach due to their price. However, in the areas of scientific research and the military, working without computers already was almost unimaginable. They also became increasingly important for large and medium-sized businesses. In order to exchange information faster, many tried to connect up their networks to exchange information as quickly as possible. In the 1960s, scientists still had to send data in the form of printouts – a laborious and time-consuming process. Furthermore, the historical context must be taken into account in order to be able to place the development of the Arpanet correctly: the USA was in the middle of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

At this time, these two nations were not only engaged in a near-limitless arms race and various proxy wars, they also tried to outdo each other when it came to science, space travel in particular. Considering the political situation at the time, it’s hardly surprising that the missions to set up a US computer network came from the military – more precisely, from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The president at the time, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had already founded ARPA in 1958 as an agency of the Ministry of Defense, responding to the launch of the Soviet Sputnik satellite.

In order to be able to better coordinate scientific projects and catch up to the research of the Soviet Union, this new authority had the task of organizing military research projects centrally (under the name DARPA – the authority is still active today, for your information). To this end, a project was devoted to networking computers from various university research institutions. In 1962, the computer scientist and psychologist, J.C.R. Licklider, took over the management position at ARPA. He already had a concrete idea for a network and was able to inspire the two IT pioneers, Robert Taylor and Ivan Sutherland, with his vision. From then on, the two computer scientists conducted research on a decentralized network (Licklider himself left ARPA and the project in 1964).

Initially there was no support from the Ministry of Defence, however, in 1965 the research work was very successful and was eventually completed in 1969. BBN Technologies – an IT company for which, interestingly enough, Linklider had worked as Vice President for a long time – was then commissioned to carry out the technical implementation.

On 29th October 1969, approximately three months after Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, the programmer Charley Kline was able to send the first fully readable message via ARPANET: 'login'. At this time, the newly developed network consisted of exactly four computers in four different locations: the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), the Stanford Research Institute (SRI International), and the University of Utah (UU).

ARPANET (2024)
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