With ARPANET, Robert Taylor and Larry Roberts intended to connect many different research institutions, each hosting its own computer, for whose hardware and software it was wholly responsible. The hardware and software of the network itself, however, lay in a nebulous middle realm, belonging to no particular site. Over the course of the years 1967-1968,… Continue reading ARPANET, Part 3: The Subnet
By the end of 1966, Robert Taylor, had set in motion a project to interlink the many computers funded by ARPA, a project inspired by the "intergalactic network" vision of J.C.R. Licklider. Taylor put the responsibility for executing that project into the capable hands of Larry Roberts. Over the following year, Roberts made several crucial… Continue reading ARPANET, Part 2: The Packet
By the mid-1960s, the first time-sharing systems had already recapitulated the early history of the first telephone exchanges. Entrepreneurs built those exchanges as a means to allow subscribers to summon services such as a taxi, a doctor, or the fire brigade. But those subscribers soon found their local exchange just as useful for communicating and… Continue reading ARPANET, Part 1: The Inception
After authorizing private microwave networks in the Above 890 decision, the FCC might have hoped that they could leave those networks penned in their quiet little corner of the market and forget about them. But this quickly proved impossible. New challengers continued to press against the existent regulatory framework. They proposed a variety of new ways to… Continue reading The Unraveling, Part 2
In the early 1960s, interactive computing began to spread out from the few tender saplings nurtured at Lincoln Lab and MIT - spread in two different senses. First, the computers themselves sprouted tendrils, that reached out across buildings, campuses, and towns to allow users to interact at a distance, and to allow many users to… Continue reading Extending Interactivity
The very first electronic computers were idiosyncratic, one-off research installations.1 But as they entered the marketplace, organizations very quickly assimilated them into a pre-existing culture of data-processing - one in which all data and processes were represented as stacks of punched cards. Herman Hollerith developed the first tabulator capable of reading and counting data based… Continue reading Discovering Interactivity
The Internet was born in a distinctly American telecommunications environment -- the United States treated telegraph and telephone providers very differently than the rest of the world -- and there is good reason to believe that this environment played a formative role in its development, shaping the character of the Internet to come. Let us,… Continue reading One System, Universal Service?
In the early 1970s, Larry Roberts approached AT&T, the vast American telecommunications monopoly, with an intriguing offer. At the time, Roberts was director of the computing division of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), a relatively young organization within the Department of Defense that was dedicated to long-term, blue-sky research. Over the previous five years, Roberts… Continue reading The Backbone: Introduction