Advanced Research Project Agency ARPANET (1966)

The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was the first wide-area packet-switching network with distributed control and the first network to implement the TCP/IP protocol suite. Both technologies became the technical foundation of the Internet. The ARPANET was established by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the United States Department of Defense.

Based on the ideas of J. C. R. Licklider, Bob Taylor initiated the ARPANET project in 1966 and appointed Larry Roberts as program manager. Roberts made the key decisions about the network design. He incorporated Donald Davies’ concepts and designs for packet switching, and sought input from Paul Baran. ARPA awarded the contract to build the network to Bolt Beranek & Newman who developed the first protocol for the network. Roberts engaged Leonard Kleinrock to develop mathematical methods for analyzing the packet network technology.

The first computers were connected in 1969 and the Network Control Program was implemented in 1970. Networking research in the early 1970s by Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf led to the formulation of the Transmission Control Program (TCP) in 1974, which incorporated concepts from the French CYCLADES project directed by Louis Pouzin. As the network development progressed, a protocol for internetworking was developed by which multiple separate networks could be joined into a network of networks. Originally referred to as IP/TCP, version 4 of TCP/IP was installed in the ARPANET for production use in January 1983 after the Department of Defense made it standard for all military computer networking.

Access to the ARPANET was expanded in 1981, when the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the Computer Science Network (CSNET). In the early 1980s, the NSF funded the establishment of national supercomputing centers at several universities, and provided network access and network interconnectivity with the NSFNET project in 1986. The ARPANET project was formally decommissioned in 1990, after partnerships with the telecommunication industry paved the way for future commercialization of a new world-wide network, known as the Internet.