The Origin of the Internet

The most common view is that the Internet is a product of the US military and was developed for military and defense purposes (Naughton 47). The launch of Sputnik 1 on 4 October 1957 by the Soviet Union spawned a very specific fear: if nations were capable of launching space satellites, they might also be capable of launching long-distance nuclear attacks. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the US Department of Defense (DoD) was concerned that centralized forms of communications would be vulnerable to a nuclear attack. In the era before the distributed processing power of the PC had been dreaming of, the DoDs fears that the country’s defense systems were reliant upon a few, very large, computers were all too real (Naughton 53-54). There was a need to link computers together in such a way that it was not dependent on any single machine for the integrity of the whole network. At this time, networks were totally reliant on a few machines and if these were damaged then all computer processing would cease. The technological development that was created from this military objective was known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). Thus, some researchers connect the history of the Internet with the name of George Stibitz (1940) who developed the concept of a teletype terminal and demonstrated that computers can communicate at a distance (Naughton 49-51).
The ARPA’s task was to establish and maintain a worldwide leader in science and technology. Its first director, however, defined the agency’s role almost completely in military terms and failed to recognize the importance of cutting-edge research taking place in the nation’s univer­sities at that time (ONeill 67). This misjudgment was to threaten the continuation of the agency during its early years, and in 1958, ARPA saw many of the projects and programs it had initiated transferred to the&nbsp.National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).