Back to top

Chapter 4 - Networking: Vision and Packet Switching 1959 - 1968

4.10 In Perspective

Licklider’s vision of an Intergalactic Network would finally be launched in the contract let by Roberts at IPTO at the end of 1968. The Project would become known as Arpanet: a network created by ARPA. It would revolutionize how computers would communicate with each other and, in doing so, would unleash unimagined change, technological, economic, social, and human. It would become a discontinuity in historical progress. For contrary to those who doubted the feasibility of packet switching, it worked.

Even though at first information was available only to the most interested, Arpanet would become widely known. Those heavily invested in circuit switching, such as the firms designing and building modems and multiplexers, charged on in their own world, ignoring the coming of packet switching. It was not that they did not see the growing computerization of corporate America, they did. Only they saw immediate products, revenue and success doing what they already knew how to do. The next chapter tells the story of Data Communications from 1969 through 1972. The following chapter reconstructs how the Arpanet went from the letting of a contract to a demonstrable system.