In 1994, Bolt, Baraneck, and Newman held a 25th anniversay party in their offices in Massachusetts for the people who built the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) network of computers, called the ARPANET, which ultimately became the Internet. Most of the people who built the ARPANET have received little public recognition for their work even though the results, the Internet, have revolutionized communications.
In their book Wizards Stay Up Late, Hafner and Lyon credit J.C.R. Licklider, who was not a programmer, with recognizing the potential for computers as a tool for amplifying human intelligence and expanding analytical powers rather than just as an adding machine. He convinced the Defense Department to pursue the idea, and in 1969, Bolt, Baraneck, and Newman was awarded the contract to invent what was needed to network computers.
Besides Licklider, the authors tell how Bob Taylor, in an effort to cut down on hardware duplication, actually networked the computers. They describe how Paul Baran came up with the idea for the distributed (lattice) network and for fracturing messages into blocks to be recompoased on the receiving computer, as well as figuring out that this kind of system would only require a redundancy level of four to be stable. All in all, the authors describe the contributions of over 20 people to the development of the ARPANET.
In 1990, the ARPANET was shut down after being fully merged with the Internet.
The authors end the stories of the developers of the Internet with a rundown of the 25th anniversary party at Bolt, Baranek, and Newman, in the time-honored tradition of "where are they now."
The original intent of the ARPANET was to link universities where research was going on, but by accident, e-mail was discovered, and the system which was designed for sharing resources became an electornic mail system.
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