Last Updated on November 10, 2020 by Sean B
The ARPANET was the grandfather of the internet as we know it today. It was a project initiated by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), now known as DARPA, a subsidiary of the United States Department of Defense. It was the world’s very first wide-area packet-switching network and the start of TCP/IP protocols. We’ll talk more about what led to the creation of ARPANET and how it turned out to be one of the biggest innovations ever in this article.
January 1967 – Work Starts on ARPANET
In February of 1966, Bob Taylor, inspired by the ideas of J. C. R. Licklider, met the director of ARPA, Charles M. Herzfeld, and succeeded in getting funding for an advanced network development project. Herzfeld cut the funding amounting to a million dollars from a ballistic missile research project and directed it to Taylor’s network research project. Taylor hired the services of Larry Roberts and appointed him as the program manager in the Information Processing Techniques Office at ARPA, and they started working on ARPANET at the start of 1967.
In April of 1967, the first design session was called by Roberts to set the technical standards. This included standardizing the identification and authorizations of the users of the network, the procedures and protocols for the transmission of characters, error checking, and retransmission. Roberts first suggested making the mainframe computers the hub for the transmissions network, but others opposed it, and the team finally settled on using minicomputers instead of the mainframes.
Increasing the Speed of the ARPANET
The plan made by Taylor, Roberts and their team was unveiled in October 1967 at the Symposium on Operating System Principles. At the same event, the packet switching method devised by Donald Davies was also showcased. ARPANET developers like the idea and incorporated that into their system, increasing the transmission speed from 2.4 kbps to 50 kbps.
The final version of the Internet Messaging Program was written by Barry and Roberts in mid-1968. It was based on a report from the Stanford Research Institute and consisted of all the detailed specifications used in developing and running ARPANET. After the completion of the research part of the project, ARPA issued Request for Quotations to 140 related companies. For most of these, the project was not a very practical one, and only 12 of them actually came forward to bid. The contract was awarded to Bolt, Beranek, and Newman Inc. (BBN) in April 1969 to build a computer network, as suggested by Roberts and Taylor.
Protocols and Software Used in ARPANET
The 1822 protocol was the very first protocol implemented by ARPANET in 1969 to make host-to-host communications possible. It was designed to work flawlessly with a number of different computer architectures. A typical 1822 message consisted of a message type, the message body, and a numeric address of the host. The transmitting device created a message containing all the required fields, and it was then transmitted to the receiver via IMPs, and then it was decoded.
This system was nowhere near as capable as the internet we know today. It was designed to send one simple message from computer A to computer B, and in case of failure, it just told the receiving computer and the host that the message was lost in transmission. Network Control Program and TCP/IP were later introduced to make things more functional and reliable.
Large Scale Implementation of ARPANET
BBN initially commissioned a team of seven people to work on the project. They had all the technical support from ARPA and Taylor’s team and soon created the first working system. The BBN network was based on the same concept of using small computers called Interface Message Processors (IMPs) to function as gateways to connect multiple local resources. The same IMPs later became routers as we know them today. The initial IMPs were developed and constructed by BBN technologies based on Honeywell DDP-516 computers by adding 24 KB magnetic-core memory to them.
In 1969, finally, the first computers were connected using the network, and the Network Control Program was put in place in 1970. Roberts hired the services of Howard Frank to study and make improvements to the design of ARPANET that they created. By March of 1970, ARPANET reached the East Coast of the US with the connection of an IMP to the network at BBN’s office at Cambridge, Massachusetts. The network grew fast by having 9 IMPs by June of 1970, 13 in December, and 18 by the next September. By the start of the 1980s, the network has a total of 213 connected computers.
The next step was to go global, and Roberts made that possible via satellite link. In June 1973, a satellite link routed connection from the US to a ground station in Norway, and it was then transmitted via ground circuits to University College London.
With the passage of time, remote login, email, and file transfer features were added to the system. The network kept growing with time and was officially declared functional in 1975, and the control was handed over to Defense Communications Agency.
Decommissioning of ARPANET
In 1981, ARPANET was extended beyond defense use, and the National Science Foundation funded the project named Computer Science Network (CSNET). At the start of the 80s, NSF started establishing National Supercomputing Centers at multiple universities, and widespread network interconnectivity was provided in 1986. In 1990, ARPANET was officially decommissioned, and joint ventures between the computer and telecommunication industry paved the way for the establishment of a worldwide network of connected devices known as the Internet. The plugs on the pioneering TIPs and IMPs were pulled in 1990, but some of them did remain functional until July 1990.
The internet is an integral part of our lives now. It is no longer just about chat rooms, Yahoo Messenger, or YouTube. It is the system that makes our world go around. ARPANET was the beginning of it all. If it were not for ARPANET, you would not be reading this text right now. It is true that the abilities and the transmission speed of the ARPANET seem to be a joke in today’s scenario, but it was the starting point that made it all possible. ARPANET is just another example of how humans can achieve anything with determination and effort.
What impact did the creation of the ARPANET have on the development of chatbots? That’s an easy question to answer, without the ARPANET, we wouldn’t have the Internet. The Internet allowed the chatbot concept to spread faster and communicate more widely. With Machine Learning, all of those interactions made chatbots smarter and opened up new arenas for their use.