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Charles Herzfeld on ARPAnet and Computers

ARPAnet - A Network for Sharing Computer Resources
Why was the ARPAnet started? Most of the early "history" on the subject is wrong. As Director of ARPA at the time, I can tell you our intent. The ARPAnet was not started to create a Command and Control System that would survive a nuclear attack, as many now claim. To build such a system was clearly a major military need, but it was not ARPA's mission to do this; in fact, we would have been severely criticized had we tried. Rather, the ARPAnet came out of our frustration that there were only a limited number of large, powerful research computers in the country, and that many research investigators who should have access to them were geographically separated from them.

The Idea: To Facilitate Access for the Researcher via ARPAnet
One must remember that time sharing of computers was beginning to be a real possibility, and that reasonably friendly computer interfaces were being developed. Some examples of interfaces include the RAND tablet, interactive displays, and the light pen. Bob Taylor, who was Director of the ARPA Computer Technology program at the time, tells the story correctly (see the article "25 Years of the ARPAnet" in the proceedings of the BBN Conference, September 1994). Bob and his colleagues wanted to see if there was a way to link the computers to each other, and connect the users to these netted computers in a way that facilitated access by the researchers. At the time, no one knew whether this could be done at all, so the program was clearly a high-risk one.

Potential Military Applications Developed Later for ARPAnet
The potential military applications (including the potential for robust communications) were well in our minds, but they were not our primary responsibility. In fact there existed a significant Air Force program devoted to Strategic Command and Control, and related pieces of work were done under that aegis. My involvement was modest; I had to approve the program, and did so enthusiastically. As time went on, I became one of its strong supporters and explicators, especially before Congress.

Battelle's Contribution to the Defender Program
It is worth mentioning to this audience that one of the large contributions Battelle made to the "Information System" during the mid-sixties were the so-called Red Books that summarized in an authoritative and up-to-date manner the technical details of U.S. strategic systems. This effort was managed under the Defender Program I mentioned earlier.

Table of Contents

ARPAnet - The First Internet
The model-T of the information highway - ARPANET was the first Internet.

Source Defense Technical Information Center - author Charles Herzfeld

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