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The Interface Message Processor (IMP) was the first packet router for the ARPANET. The first ARPANET transmission was between UCLA and Stanford Research Institute (SRI) on Oct. 29, 1969.

driven by artificial intelligence, virtual/augmented reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT), a visit to the past is a must.

STEVE JURVETSON PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

In the Beginning The roots of the modern internet lie in the groundbreaking work DARPA began in the 1960s (when the Agency was known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA) to create what became the ARPANET. In its earliest form, ARPANET began with four computer nodes, and the first computer-to-computer signal on this nascent network was sent between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute on Oct. 29, 1969. “To understand how the ARPANET got started, it’s important to realize that at a time when there were very, very few computers in the world, a few visionaries started seeing the idea that eventually [computers] would all want to talk to each other,” said James Hendler, Director of the Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications, and who served as chief scientist of DARPA’s former Information Systems Office. Secure communications and information-sharing between geographically dispersed research facilities was one of ARPANET’s original goals. As more computers became involved in this early computer network, however, engineering problems arose. A key issue was maintaining communications, because if ARPANET behaved like a traditional circuit-based telephone system, failure of a single node could take the entire network down. What was needed was a means to get messages to their destination in a way that did not require the presence of any single node. This is where the concept of packet switching originated. By moving bits of data that dynamically worked their way through a network to the destination and reassembled themselves there, the problem of data loss if one or more nodes went down could be avoided. A common communications protocol between computers was also necessary, because the computers involved “were anything but compatible,” noted Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist (this

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DARPA: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency 1958-2018  

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