Internet Guide Logo

Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) technologies

Last Edit: 10/01/17

Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) technologies is a technology company that is currently owned by Raytheon and is a subsidiary of that corporation. Just as with Raytheon, BBN has a storied history as a major U.S. defense contractor, and has fulfilled contracts for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) technologies played an important role in the research and development of wide area computer networks in the second half of the twentieth century, and a number of prominent computer scientists -- referred to as 'pioneers of the Internet' -- have worked for BBN, such as: Robert 'Bob' Kahn and JCR Licklider.

Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) technologies, as the name would suggest, were founded by three individuals:

  1. Richard Bolt
  2. Leo Beranek
  3. Robert Newman

Bolt and Beranek were professors at MIT when they founded BBN in 1948.

In relation to the Internet, perhaps the most notable contribution BBN made to the development of the Internet was their contribution to the implementation of ARPANET. The first North American wide area computer network, ARPANET's technical architecture would evolve to become the Internet. ARPANET was commissioned by Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) in 1968; ARPA was later renamed DARPA. Bob Taylor and Lawrence Roberts, while working at ARPA, devised and implemented the 'grand plan' of ARPANET: the ARPA computer NETwork.

ARPANET required a technology that could transport data packets between its nodes (locations). The procurement of this technology was initiated in the spring/summer months of 1968. Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) technologies won the contract to build this technology, and, in February 1969, met with the team of computer scientists (Stephen Crocker et al) who would create the protocols for ARPANET. The BBN employees at this meeting included Robert 'Bob' Kahn: Bob Kahn would later co-invent TCP/IP. In the summer of 1969 BBN completed its contract with ARPA by delivering four Interface Message Processors (IMP); this technology would evolve into the present day computer 'router'.

BBN also created their own packet switching computer network in the 1970's: Telenet. Telenet was a publicly accessible network, whereas ARPANET was a computer network designed for educational and military use. BNN also became an Internet Service Provider in 1994. However, in terms of its impact in relation to the Internet, BBN is known primarily for its contract to create the Interface Message Processors (IMP) for ARPANET, and for participating in the creation of: Atlantic Packet Satellite Network (SATNET), Military Network (MILNET), Computer Science Network (CSNET), and (New England Academic and Research Network) NEARnet.