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Did Government build the Internet?

Did Government build the Internet?

A DARPA project manager, acoustical psychologist Dr. JCR Licklider of BBN Corporation, or “Lick” as he was called, had an “epiphany” and envisioned an “Intergalactic Network”. Lick’s Intergalactic Network would include email and remote sign-on that would someday bind together the galaxy, Licklider had his epiphany when he saw the first DEC TX-0 computer, originally developed for Project SAGE.

Dr. Licklider went to his managers at DARPA and received about a million dollars in initial funding to create what became the ARPAnet, the lineal forerunner of today’s internet. The ARPAnet was not open to private individuals working in small groups through voluntary cooperation. ARPAnet was open only to the military, large corporations with substantial military contracts, and research universities receiving DARPA funding.

It was government funding which paid for the development of all of the basic internet protocols we use in some form today such as packet switching in the form of NCP, the predecessor to the TCP/IP of today. DARPA started funding research for ARPAnet in 1969. In 1982, the first inter-network gateway was set up, to CSNET. In 1990, government funding for the ARPAnet ended. Government funding continued for a few years under NSFnet, which funded a “backbone” of (for then) high-speed long distance connections for computer data.

Mr. Johnson would be correct in his statements about small voluntary associations of individuals building computer communications systems if he were talking about bulletin board systems, FIDOnet, or USENET. However, those were not the ARPAnet and did not contribute in a significant manner to the eventual structure and topology of the ARPA Internet.

The New York Times erred in publishing this essay, which is based on statements about the history of the Net which are absolutely and provably false.


Henry Edward Hardy
Senior Systems Administrator
Tufts University*
Author of “The History of the Net”, 1993
NIC Handle: HEH

*institutional affiliation for identification purposes only

The Internet? We Built That
J. C. R. Licklider (wikipedia)
Project SAGE, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 1950–1963
Memorandum For Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network
Network Control Program (wikipedia)

Copyright © 2012 Henry Edward Hardy

22 September, 2012 Posted by | ARPANET, DARPA, internet, J. C. R. Licklider, Project SAGE, scanlyze | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment