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Bush Cites DoD Internet Development in Promoting U.S. Innovation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2006 – President Bush cited the Defense Department's development of the Internet during a speech yesterday as an example of the ingenuity he hopes to promote through his American Competitiveness Agenda to ensure the United States maintains its leadership role in the world.

Speaking to workers at the 3M corporate headquarters in Maplewood, Minn., the president used DoD's investment in the research and development that ultimately led to the Internet as a model for the innovation he hopes to spark nationwide.

"I don't know if people realize this, but the Internet began as a Defense Department project to improve military communications," Bush told the group. "In other words, we were trying to figure out how to better communicate, here was research money spent, and as a result of this sound investment, the Internet came to be."

The initiative goes back to the early 1960s at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, then called the Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA spokeswoman Jan Walker told the American Forces Press Service. JCR Licklider, a visionary manager at the agency at the time, was convinced that computers would revolutionize the way humans interact with the world.

Through his work at ARPA, Licklider began working with some of the brightest minds in computing to explore ways to advance this concept of integrating computer networks, Walker said. These included scientists at Stanford University; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of California, Los Angeles; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and several companies.

Other DARPA researchers who followed him at the agency continued building on Licklider's vision as they explored ways for DARPA scientists around the country to share information on their various computer systems, Walker said.

In doing so, they developed rules for the computers to pass information by breaking a message into small units, or packets. These packets were then reassembled into the original message after reaching the end destination, Walker explained. These rules became what we now know among users as the TCP/IP, or Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, she said.

DARPA referred to this early computer-networking project as the "ARPANET." The agency's researchers continued to enhance the system and ultimately led to the use of network mail as an impromptu communication tool. By the early 1970s, an ARPA study showed that three-quarters of all message traffic on the ARPANET was electronic mail, or e-mail as it is commonly known, Walker said.

Other organizations created more and more networks, all using the TCP/IP rules. This now-vast web of interconnected networks forms today's Internet, Walker said.

Bush heralded the revolutionary nature of this DARPA initiative yesterday as he spoke to 3M employees. "The Internet has changed us," he said. "It's changed the whole world. It's an amazing example of what a commitment to research dollars can mean."

The United States - government and industry alike - needs to continue this type of innovation for the nation to remain a technological and economic leader, the president said. "Let's stay on the leading edge of technology and change, and let's reaffirm our commitment to scientific innovation," he said.

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Related Sites:
President Bush's Remarks
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

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