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The Internet had its origins in 1969 as an experimental project of the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA), and was called ARPANET. This network linked computers and computer networks owned by the military, defense contractors, and university laboratories conducting defense-related research. The network later allowed researchers across the country to access directly and to use extremely powerful supercomputers located at a few key universities and laboratories. As it evolved far beyond its research origins in the United States to encompass universities, corporations, and people around the world, the ARPANET came to be called the 'DARPA Internet,' and finally just the 'Internet.'[1]

The ARPANET was designed to reroute network traffic automatically around problems in connecting systems or in passing along the necessary information to keep the network functioning.[2] It relied heavily on packet switching concepts developed in the 1960s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the RAND Corporation, and Great Britain's National Physical Laboratory. This approach was a departure from the circuit-switching systems used in telephone networks.[3]

The ARPANET was difficult to use and connected at most about 200 people at 21 nodes. The project did, however, bring together the people who played a continuous role in the Internet’s technical development and its governance for the next 30 years. ARPANET created the nucleus of an Internet technical community.[4]

The first ARPANET node was located at the University of California at Los Angeles. Additional nodes were soon established at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International), the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. The development of a host-to-host protocol, the network control protocol (NCP), followed in 1970, enabling network users to develop applications.[5]

In 1972, researchers using the ARPANET developed the first email program, which, for the first time ever, enabled computers to be used for long-distance, person-to-person communication.


  1. American Civil Liberties Union v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824, 831 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (full-text), aff’d, Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997) (full-text).
  2. US-CERT,"Security of the Internet" (full-text).
  3. The Evolution of Untethered Communications, at 19.
  4. Milton L. Mueller, Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace 74 (2002).
  5. The Evolution of Untethered Communications, at 19.