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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

ARPANET Created in Arlington on May 17, 2011

It's official. The ARPANET was created in Arlington on May 17, 2011 at 4:08 pm!

Well, according to the video screen in the picture below that is.

After the Ruskies launched Sputnik, the United States government decided that technology research and development
would probably be a good priority. The blog post from earlier today goes into that history. Inside of ARPA was an office called Information Processing Technologies Office (IPTO) - they were in charge of computer and network research. Larry Roberts was the Chief Technologist of IPTO - basically the project manager of something called the ARPANET. Funding main frame computers at the universities, Larry Roberts wanted to build a network between those computers in order to share resources and research. In 1969, in California, the first packets were transmitted on the ARPANET between UCLA (Leonard Kleinrock) and Stanford (Doug Engelbart). Packet switch computer networks had been born.

Pictured at the podium is Stephen Lukasik, ARPA Chief from 1970 to 1975 (in 1979 Lukasik would join the Federal Communications Commission, make a tremendous contribution to something known as the Computer Inquiries proceeding, and work with Michael Marcus to help establish unlicensed radio spectrum (ie WiFi)). Mr. Lukasik was present at today's Arlington County Board meeting as the County unveiled a new historic plaque which will be placed at 1400 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn, the home of ARPA at the time.

By 1972, it was clear that the ARPANET would not be enough. The ARPANET could not interconnect with other networks. Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn set to work creating the Internet Protocol, a new network that could interconnect networks and support all the cools stuff on the ends. In 1981, the Department of Defense decided that its new Defense Digital Network would use this Internet Protocol, and the Internet was born. In 1985, the National Science Foundation would expand the Internet outside of the military community to the non-military academic community with the NSFNET. This proved wildly popular, and in the early 1990s NSF privitized NSFNET, opening the Internet up to the public for everyone to use.

The Internet starts with the ARPANET and the ARPANET starts in an office in Arlington, Virginia.

Today, Arlington County unveiled its new historic marker, acknowledging this tremendous historic event that had its inception in Arlington.

Stephen Lukasik was joined by fellow ARPA colleagues (from left to right) Robert Young, George Lawrence, Steve Lukasik, Eric Willis, Francis Niedenfuhr. Also featured in the picture holding the plaque that spells out ARPANET in binary is Christopher Zimmerman, chairman of the Arlington County Board.

The historic marker reads:
"The ARPANET, a project of the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense, developed the technology that became the foundation for the Internet at this site from 1970 to 1975. Originally intended to support military needs, ARPANET technology was soon applied to civilian uses, allowing information to be rapidly and widely available. The Internet, and services such as e-mail, e-commerce and the World Wide Web, continues to grow as the under-lying technologies evolve. The innovations inspired by the ARPANET have provided great benefits for society."
For more on the history of the Internet, see Cybertelecom :: Internet History

Arlington Invented the Internet!!

Actually... it did. And today at 3:30 the Arlington County Board will be recognizing this historic achievement.

The roots of the Internet go back to something called the ARPANET. ARPANET was a project of a special office in the Pentagon, ARPA, which had as a mission high tech research. ARPA was born after the Ruskies launched Sputnik, shaking the United State's nerves. Pres. Eisenhower realized the importance of technology for the security of the country, and set about rectifying the perceived disadvantage of the United States in terms of technology.

ARPA's mission was to develop missiles and space flight, and to develop IT research. Well, it was then decided that the missile and space flight stuff should go off to a civilian agency: NASA. ARPA proceeded to advance information technology research under the leadership JC Licklider and then Larry Roberts.

At about this time - and as is common with innovation - three different groups invented packet switching (the underlying technology of the Internet)
  • Don Davies in England experimented with packet switching, but for his work to advance, his packet switch networks would have had to been built by the British Postal System.
  • Paul Baran working for RAND under contract with the Air Force was very very concerned about how fragile DOD's command-and-control communications network was. The US communications network was a hub-and-spoke designed network. Take out the hub and you can take out the entire network. He wanted to move to a distributed network that was resilient and could transmit a reliable "Go / No Go" message to the troops. Baran recommended that DOD revise its entire communications network. DOD's communication network was run by analogy switched network engineers who had no interest in Baran's non-feasible ideas. And the idea died.
  • Larry Roberts at ARPA was funding Big-Iron main frame computers at different universities across the United States, supporting IT research. If he gave the X100 to MIT and then the X200 to Stanford, MIT would scream that it wanted the X200. And then if he gave the X300 to Carnegie Mellow, Stanford and MIT would both scream. Everyone wanted the latest and greatest. Roberts wanted them to share. He wanted them to share the hardware and he wanted them the software and research. To achieve this, he needed a network. This would be the ARPANET.
In 1969 two things happened. The United States landed a man on the moon. And the United States transmitted the first packets on the ARPANET. One was on the front page of every newspaper everywhere. The other received no coverage whatsoever. Both radically changed our world.

Paul Baran, whose work was to design a network that would survive nuclear war, attempted to change the entire DOD establishment, and failed. Larry Roberts, in a skunkworks project, attempted initially to network 4 computers. Then 12 computers. And he succeeded.

At about 1970 ARPA moved its office from the Pentagon to Rosslyn (both in Arlington).
ARPA was an experimental office. It was like a venture capital office. It started things. It did not maintain them. In 1971, when ARPANET was an established success, Larry Roberts approached AT&T and said, "hey, we have this packet switching network. We really arent in the business of running networks. Why dont you take it and we will be your anchor tenant." AT&T declined, seeing no role for packet switching in their business plan. Larry Roberts wrote,
I went to AT&T and I made an official offer to them to buy the network from us and take it over. We'd give it to them basically. Let them take it over and they could continue to expand it commercially and sell the service back to the government. So they would have a huge contract to buy service back. And they had a huge meeting and they went through Bell Labs and they made a serious decision and they said it was incompatible with their network. They couldn't possibly consider it. It was not something they could use. Or sell.
Nerds 2.0.1 : A Brief History of the Internet by Stephen Segaller, p. 109 (TV Books 1998)

In 1972, Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn began working on a new project known as the Internet Protocol that would provide for greater interconnection between packet switched networks. In 1973 Larry Roberts left ARPA to form Telenet, the first commercial packet switched network. In 1975, the Defense Communications Agency at DOD (the office that had turned Baran down) took over operational control of the ARPANET from ARPA. In 1981, the Defense Communications Agency concluded that it needed to migrate from ARPANET to a new Defense Digital Network, and selected Cerf's and Kahn's Internet Protocol for the network. The Internet was born.

For the rest of the story, see the Internet History at Cybertelecom.

It's good to see Arlington recognize this tremendous historic moment that took place on Arlington soil. Hopefully this will serve as an inspiration to Arlington schools to fully embrace and advance information technology and the important roll it places in our student's future. Arlington is, after all, where the ARPANet was conceived.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mad Max and the GW Parkway - Why Doesnt the GW NPS Do Something?

When is the GW NPS going to correct the traffic problem on Memorial Circle? Why must we have the accident of the week or the accident of the day for this poorly designed traffic circle.

On Memorial Circle on the GW Parkway at the Memorial Bridge, traffic flowing east entering the bridge - is an absolute recipe for accidents. The GW NPS knows this. They have marked it as a dangerous intersection. Yet nothing has been done to correct it and there have been countless accidents.

This morning the NPS took down the saw horses and orange cones early. They are suppose to come down at 9:00 am. At 8:50 am they were not in place. As a result, another aggressive driver crossed a solid white line, did an illegal merge, almost caused another accident, flipping the bird to everyone as he crossed the bridge.

In the past the GW NPS said that the solutions are expensive. Rubbish. Had the GW NPS put a solution into its regular renovation plans, the GW NPS could have implemented a solution at no cost during its last renovation of the circle - which was recent.

The solutions are simple. They include - (1) Just like many bridges use plastic poles to separate lanes, put up temporary plastic poles between the inner and the outer lane preventing traffic on the inner lane from crossing the white line. Traffic coming coming up Washington BLVD can still merge into the outer lane of the circle if they need to. (2) Place a curb between the inner and outer lane in the circle preventing people from crossing the white line. Again, traffic from Washington Blvd can still merge into the circle. Or finally if the GW NPS doesnt like any of those, (3) post a police officer there occasionally and force a change into the traffic culture so that it is not so dangerous.

GW NPS knows this intersection is dangerous. When are they going to do something and fix this intersection.