Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) celebrated its 50th anniversary today. Who knew 50 years ago that contributions by this defense research agency would evolve into the present Internet. Hadn’t it been for their research you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog post today. Most of us know of DARPA because of the ARPANET or the DARPA Urban Challenge (ai geeks mostly). Its time we knew why and under what circumstances DARPA was created.
President Eisenhower established the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) 50 years ago in response to the Soviet Union’s Sputnik launch, which surprised and embarrassed the United States as the Soviets became the first nation to successfully launch a satellite into space. DARPA’s 1958 charter charged the Agency to perform certain advanced research and development projects, with the primary mission of ensuring that the United States would never again be surprised by another nation’s technological advancement. The list of DARPA’s contributions includes the Saturn V rocket, the ARPANET (which laid foundations for the Internet).
On this very day 50 years ago, Feburary 7th 1958, the following short and concise document started it all: the original DOD directive.