VERNON W. RUTTAN
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
SIX GENERAL PURPOSE TECHNOLOGIES
The Aircraft Industry
The Computer Industry
The Semiconductor Industry
The Space Industries
The development of the Internet involved the transformation of a computer network initially established in the late 1960s by the Defense Department Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Joseph Lickleider, Director of the ARPA Information Processing Techniques Office (IPO), initially visualized a system of “time sharing” in which a single centrally located computer would be accessed by a number of users with individual terminals connected to the central computer by long distance telephone lines. Messages would be broken into small “packets” and routed over the distributed system automatically rather than manually.
In early 1971 ARPA awarded a contract to Bolt, Bernek and Newman, a small high technology firm located in the Cambridge, Massachusetts area, for the development of a computer-interface message processor (IPM) that would be able to route packets along alternative routes. In a remarkably
short time, only nine months after the contract was awarded, the system design was in place. In order to galvanize the several university and defense system contractors to complete the effort to get the system on line, ARPA project Director Lawrence Roberts made a commitment to demonstrate the system, then termed the ARPANET, at the First International Conference on
Computer Communication to be held in October 1972 in Washington, D.C. The spectacularly successful demonstration convinced skeptics in the computer and telephone industries that packet switching could become a viable commercial technology.
Although the potential capacity of the ARPANET as a communication tool was apparent, at least to those who participated in its development, neither the Defense Department sponsors of the research or the members of the design team anticipated that it would take a quarter of a century to resolve the technical and institutional problems necessary to release the potential of the ARPANET, or that its primary use would be for personal and commercial e-mail rather than for transmitting data and for research collaboration.
A major institutional issue included how to separate defense related and commercial applications. In 1982 a decision was made to split ARPANET into a research oriented network, still to be called ARPANET, and an operational military network to be called MILNET that would be equipped with encrypton. A second ideologically loaded institutional issue was how to transfer what became the INTERNET from public to private operation. The process of privatization was largely completed by the mid-1990s, thus opening the way for completion of global “network of networks” — the World Wide Web.
Since it was transferred to civilian control, users have generally lost sight of the contribution of military procurement to the development of the INTERNET. From the perspective of the individual or commercial user is the critical date that marked the explosion of the INTERNET into the business and cultural scene is 1994, the year an easy-to-use INTERNET browser with secured transaction called Netscape, based on research conducted at the University of Illinois, was launched. It is clear in retrospect, however, that no other public or private organization than ARPA was prepared to provide the scientific, technical and financial resources to support what became the INTERNET.
В статье кстати выдвигается любопытная теория, что всякая борьба со спидом, еболой и глобальным потеплением вызвана именно необходимостью найти источник долгосрочного и масштабного финансирования на замену военным.