Category Archives: arpanet

Conclusion of ARPAnet

As class is concluding I have been thinking a lot about the importance of ARPAnet. Before this semester I had no idea what ARPAnet was as most of us didnt. However as the internet becomes more and more apart of our daily lives I feel that we should all know what the internet is and how it got started. I am glad I got to learn about the ARPAnet and the people involved in it, and that I got to research it more as my group’s project topic.

Donald Davies

In class during the ARPAnet discussion we talked about Donald Davies and his role in packet switching and ARPAnet.  I found in article online that goes more in depth about Donald Davies:

“Donald Davies coined the word “packet”. In 1966, he succeeded Albert Uttley as superintendent of NPL’s autonomics division. He soon turned this into a division of computer science, giving it new and more practical objectives. The key new project was the development of an idea he had originated in 1965: that to achieve communication between computers a fast message-switching communication service was needed, in which long messages were split into chunks sent separately so as to minimize the risk of congestion. The chunks he called packets, and the technique became known as packet-switching. His network design was received enthusiastically by America’s Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA), and the Arpanet and the NPL local network became the first two computer networks in the world using the technique. Today’s Internet can be traced back directly to this origin.”

Here is the link to the article to find more information on him.

What’s the Internet?

On Tuesday evening the Internet Course continued to blow minds and win hearts with another brilliant group presentation by Jack Eaton, Jack Hylan, James Roepe, and Will Strand. This group presented on the history of ARPANET, and let me tell you they were presentation ringers. They were throwing Jolly Ranchers to anyone who participated and seducing the class to pay attention with a $12 Chipotle gift card to the person who scored 100% on a quiz they gave.

But it wasn’t all about bribing the class to participate with sweets and burritos—-though that was remarkably effective. They also did a brilliant job presenting their topic. They created a compelling timeline of the history of the internet using TimelineJS.

Even better, they produced a video for the session wherein they asked random folks on UMW’s campus three simple questions in the following order: What is the internet? What is the world wide web? What is ARPANET?

The resulting video (featured below) is probably the most compelling argument yet for building out a more robust notion of web literacy into the curriculum. I highly recommend you spend five minutes watching the video they produced. It’s a telling document about how few students understand not only the history of the internet (à la ARPANET) but how the basics of how the internet work.

The Internet Course: WINNING!

ARPAnet Panel Response

The group who did the topic about Arpanet was great! I really liked how they got the class involved, and also their timeline, which was really cool. It’s crazy to think that Arpanet was the ”first internet” and to see how we actually use the internet today. At the beginning of the semester I was in the panel that talked about  ”The history of the Internet,” so I was a little familiar with Arpanet, Milnet, and DARPAnet.In one of my previous blogs, I talked about the history of the internet and its initial purposes, In the article, the authors Schwartz and Campbell talked bout ARPANET and how it ”launched” the internet. ARPANET was the original network built by the U.S Advanced Projects Research Agency in the late 1960s(Schwartz and Campbell Vol. 28.) It’s purpose served to make it easier for people to get access to computers and also it was originally made for military use to improve communications. I stated in class about the launch of sputnick, but I really didn’t know much more beyond that. I just knew that Sputnick had something to do with ARPANET. In class, the panel made it make more sense, and I also looked up a little on it. The main reason behind ARPANET was in response to that event (the launch of sputnick) , in order to keep up with their rivals(USSR), the US started the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, and began to develop ideas that would give them an edge against the other countries. One of the most important products of ARPA was ARPANET.

Here is where I found some history

Jolly Ranchers, Chipotle, and the ARPAnet

I really liked today’s group. They have almost everything done and it looks really good.

They incorporated Jolly Ranchers and Chipotle in order for us to participate which I thought was awesome! And innovative! Just like the ARPAnet!

I think the highlight of the presentation was the Youtube video they created. They found a diverse amount of students, visitors and faculty to answer some basic questions that their project answers. It was really funny. However, it is important to point out that this is what most people know about the ARPAnet, which isn’t much.

Hopefully, their final timeline will reach out to many people so that they learn about the history of the internet and how it came to be!


A quick timeline of ARPAnet’s major events

Here is a quick timeline I have made of some of ARPAnet’s major events:

  • 1958-1967 – Formation of ARPA and Design stage of ARPAnet
  • 1969- ARPAnet carries its first packets
  • Oct 29 1969-  at 10:30 pm UCLA sends first successful message over ARPAnet to Stanford
  • Dec 5 1969- Four node network was established (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, UCSB, Utah)
  • March 1970- ARPAnet reaches the east coast (BBN)
  • 1971-1972- Basic Email Programs are established over the ARPA
  • September 1971- 23 connected Universities and Government hosts
  • 1973- Norway becomes first country outside of US to connect
  • 1981- 213 host computers
  • 1983- ARPAnet splits with military hosts to form MILNET
  • Formally decommissioned on 28 February 1990

I hope this is informational and that you were able to find information you had not already known on ARPAnet.

Group ARPAnet update 2

On Monday, Jack Hylan and I explored the campus for victims… I mean participants for out ARPAnet interviews for our presentation. We asked several students, staff, and random people among campus to answer 3 simple questions. The responses were hilarious. The answers were all over the place from deep thorough thoughts to blank stairs into the camera. We are looking forward to share the clips with the class, should be fun!

Group Project Update 1

Our group met on Friday the 11th to discuss what our group will be doing for both our presentation and our final project. I have been reading the book Jim gave me called Where the Wizards Stay Up Late. The book takes a look at the beginnings of the internet specifically when it was part of DARPA. It is very interesting to think the internet was created because of our fear of Russian technology surpassing our own because of the success of Sputnik. Our group decided part of our presentation will be going into the initial reasons behind the creation of ARPAnet. There seem to be 2 schools of thought of why ARPAnet was created. The first is that it was going to be used to connect university researchers together to make the sharing of knowledge easier. The second is that it was created to be used as a secondary communication tool in the case of nuclear attack. The second reason was first published by Time magazine the first reason was brought up by many people who actually worked on the project. The second part of our presentation is going to be a brief history of the internet. Our group will be using many different types of media to present our material. We will have a video, website, and a POWTOON.

ARPANET: the First Decade

Arpanet Information BrochureIn response to my post about the “Three Visions of “ARPANET,” Paul Bond did some digging on the internet yesterday around the history of ARPANET as a way to demonstrate the possibilities of targeted Google searches limited to specific extensions, such as .gov, .mil, or .edu for students in The Internet Course:

I thought it might be interesting to see what kind of official documents are available online. I looked up what’s out there in the .gov domain (arpanet and the first hit is a nice looking site from the NSF on the birth of the internet.  I tried the same approach with military sites (arpanet and found the history of DARPA, and a 50 year retrospective.

What he found was pretty awesome. I particularly enjoyed the report published in 1981 by Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (the engineering firm that literally built the internet) titled “A History of the Internet: the First Decade.” The executive summary frames language that we often here in our day and age about the “revolution in computer technology”:

Just as the telephone, the telegraph, and the printing press had far-reaching effects on human intercommunication, the widespread utilization of computer networks which has been catalyzed by the ARPANET project represents a similarly far-reaching change in the use of computers by mankind. The full impact of the technical changes set in motion by this project may not be understood for many years. (I-2)

They were busting out the “printing press” analogy as early as 1981! I really appreciate the early awareness that the potential impact of the internet couldn’t be fully fathomed in 1981. It’s a nice executive summary ten years in. I’m also interested in how they explain the purpose of the ARPANET given that, as I blogged about yesterday, it’s often popularly conflated with a mission critical military communications network. According to this 1985 report published by the Defense Communications Agency,  a military network wasn’t formalized until 1983:

In 1983, the existing ARPANET was administratively divided into two unclassified networks, ARPANET and MILNET, to meet the growing need for an unclassified operational military network as well as the need for a research and development network. The physical split into separate networks was completed in September 1984. Each network now has its own backbone, and is interconnected through controlled gateways to the other. The ARPANET serves primarily as an experimental research and development network, while the MILNET functions as an operational military network for non-classified traffic. Communication and resource sharing between them continue, but are subject to administrative restrictions. (4)

The idea that from the beginning ARPANET was a “research and development network” reinforces that from the beginning, despite visions of a failsafe communcitaions network in the event of nuclear war, this network was very much an experimental network premised on sharing resources, preventing redundancy, and re-imagining communications. MILNET, the operational military network didn’t become its own entity until 1983.

The ARPANET Information Brochure published in 1978 discusses an earlier move. This brochure points out the network was moved from DARPA to the Defense Communications Agency (DCA) in 1975. So six years after the network was built, it was moved out of the initial experimental phase:

Following the successful accomplishment of initial ARPANET design goals and the expansion of the network, it was considered appropriate to transfer the responsibility for operation of the ARPANET from DARPA to the Defense Communications Agency (DCA). In July 1975, the DCA became the operational manager of the ARPANET.

In that same introduction there is an official overview of what ARPANET was designed for (I lovee to see this stuff spelled-out):

The ARPANET is an operational, resource sharing inter-computer network linking a wide variety of computers at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored research centers and other DoD and non-DoD activities in CONUS, Hawaii, Norway, and England. The ARPANET originated as a purely experimental network in late 1969 under a research and development program sponsored by DARPA to advance the state-of-the-art in computer internetting. The network was designed to provide efficient communications between heterogeneous computers so that hardware, software, and data resources could be conveniently and economically shared by a wide community of users.

Exactly, an “experimental network …. to advance state-of-the-art in computer internetting.” The basic math that helped realize the fantastic vision of such a platform. I think it’s important to remember ARPANET wasn’t given to universities and commercial interests after all the hard work had be done—rather the work was being done by the government, universities, engineering firms, and telecoms from the very beginning. A complex series of relationships that often get lost in the historical afterglow.