Darpa the agency that shaped the modern world

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DARPA, short for The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the US military, and a research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense. As of 2021, DARPA’s mission statement was, quote, “to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security”.
DARPA has been called the agency “that shaped the modern world,” and the magazine “The Economist” has said that the list of innovations for which DARPA can claim at least partial credit for, is amongst others, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, weather satellites, GPS, drones, stealth technology, voice interfaces, and the personal computer and the internet. It is clear that governments around the world have been inspired to launch similar research and development agencies, due to DARPA’s track record of success.
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DARPA, Originally known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, creates and implements research and development projects, to expand the frontiers of technology and science, by collaborating with academia, industry, and government partners, often beyond immediate U.S. military requirements. DARPA was initiated by President Eisenhower in 1958, in response to the Soviet Union launching Sputnik 1 a year earlier.
In March 1972, ARPA changed its name to DARPA, but then changed it back again in February 1993. In March 1996, the name was changed once more, back to DARPA, which it is still called to this day.
Different from other military research and development, DARPA is independent, and reports directly to senior Department of Defense management. DARPA contains approximately 220 government employees, spread out in six different technical offices, including nearly 100 program managers. Together, these employees supervise and manage about 250 research and development programs.
The creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was authorized in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, for the purpose of forming and executing research and development projects, to expand the frontiers of technology and science, and also to be able to reach far beyond immediate military requirements. The creation of ARPA was directly attributed to the launching of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, and to U.S. realization that the Soviets had developed the capacity to rapidly exploit military technology.
DARPA’s first director, Roy Johnson, came from General Electric, and assigned Herbert York from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as his scientific assistant. ARPA’s second director was Brigadier General Austin W. Betts, who resigned in early 1961, followed by Jack Ruina, the first scientist to administer ARPA, who served as director until 1963. Ruina hired J. C. R. Licklider, who got the role as the first administrator of the Information Processing Techniques Office, which played a vital role in creation of ARPANET. And ARPANET, as you might know, was the forefather of today’s modern Internet.
From 1958 to 1965, ARPA’s main focus laid on major national issues, including space, ballistic missile defense, and nuclear test detection. During the year of 1960, all of its civilian space programs were transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, and the military space programs to the individual services.
In 1959, ARPA played a role in Transit, also called NavSat, which was a predecessor to the Global Positioning System, better known today as GPS.
During the late 1960s, ARPA redefined its role and concentrated on a varied set of research programs. In 1972, the agency was renamed the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, and during these years focused on projects like direct energy programs, information processing, and tactical technologies.
DARPA also made great progress during the 1970’s regarding information processing, initially through its support of the development of time-sharing. If you look at all modern operating systems, they rely on concepts invented for the Multics system, which were developed by a cooperation between Bell Labs, General Electric, and MIT. DARPA supported these by funding Project MAC at MIT, with an initial two-million-dollar grant.