The Government Program, ARPANET

The Internet began as Arpanet.

The ARPANET was the first wide area packet switching network, the "Eve" network of what has evolved into the Internet we know and love today.

The ARPANET was originally created by the IPTO under the sponsorship of DARPA, and conceived and planned by Lick Licklider, Lawrence Roberts, and others as described earlier in this section.

The ARPANET, and so the Internet, was born on August 30, 1969, when BBN delivered the first Interface Message Processor (IMP) to Leonard Kleinrock's Network Measurements Center at UCLA. The IMP was built from a Honeywell DDP 516 computer with 12K of memory, designed to handle the ARPANET network interface. In a famous piece of Internet lore, on the side of the crate, a hardware designer at BBN named Ben Barker had written "Do it to it, Truett", in tribute to the BBN engineer Truett Thach who traveled with the computer to UCLA on the plane.

The first full ARPANET network connection was next, planned to be with Douglas Engelbart's NLS system at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), running an SDS-940 computer with the Genie operating system and connected to another IMP. At about 10:30 PM on October 29'th, 1969, the connection was established over a 50 kbps line provided by the AT&T telephone company, and a two node ARPANET was born. As is often the case, the first test didn't work flawlessly, as Kleinrock describes below:


The UCLA team responsible for installing the IMP and creating the first ARPANET node included graduate students Vinton Cerf, Steve Crocker, Bill Naylor, Jon Postel, and Mike Wingfield. Wingfield had built the hardware interface between the UCLA computer and the IMP, the machines were connected, and within a couple of days of delivery the IMP was communicating with the local NMC host, an SDS Sigma 7 computer running the SEX operating system. Messages were successfully exchanged, and the one computer ARPANET was born. A picture of Leonard Kleinrock with the first ARPANET IMP is shown below (click on the picture to link to a larger image on Kleinrock's home site).

Leonard Kleinrock with first Interface Message Processor (IMP)

- Leonard Kleinrock with first IMP

At the UCLA end, they typed in the 'l' and asked SRI if they received it; 'got the l' came the voice reply. UCLA typed in the 'o', asked if they got it, and received 'got the o'. UCLA then typed in the 'g' and the darned system CRASHED! Quite a beginning. On the second attempt, it worked fine!

- Leonard Kleinrock, The Birth of the Internet.