Intellectual Myths: ARPA Created Internet to Have Communication System to Resist Nuclear Attack

FEBRUARY 14, 2016

From John Naughton, a Brief History of the Future, p.85:

Years later the myth spread that what drove ARPA to build the world’s first computer network was the desire to provide a communications system that could survive a nuclear attack on the United States. The record suggests otherwise: Bob Taylor simply wanted to make the taxpayer’s dollar go further.


p.84 of Naughton

One of the first things that struck Taylor when he took over as IPTO Director was that his room in the Pentagon contained teletype terminals to each of the three ARPA-supported time- sharing systems - at MIT, SDC at Santa Monica (the machine that had prompted Jack Ruina to recruit Licklider) and the University of California at Berkeley.

“Three different terminals. I had them because I could go up to any one of them and log in and then be connected to the community of people in each one of these three places . . . Once you saw that there were these three different terminals to these three distinct places the obvious question that would come to anyone’s mind [was]: why don’t we just have a network such that we have one terminal and we can go anywhere we want?” [Bob Taylor ARPA IPTO (Information Processing Technology Office) Director from 1965]