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IPTO: Information Processing Techniques Office

Last Edit: 10/01/17

The Information Processing Techniques Office was a department of:

  1. Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)
  2. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

ARPA was created by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958. DARPA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. ARPA was renamed to DARPA in 1973. The purpose of ARPA/DARPA is to develop technology for the US military.

The purpose of the Information Processing Techniques Office at ARPA/DARPA was to develop systems to analysis, process and store information. The first director of the IPTO was Joseph Licklider -- he was hired by Director of ARPA Jack Ruina in 1962 -- and it was Licklider who first suggested the development of a 'global' computer network (1963), which would connect individuals, universities, businesses, and governmental institutions.

Licklider never did manage to persuade the director of ARPA to fund the creation of a global computer network; also referred to as wide area network. When Licklider relinquished directorship of the IPTO to Ivan Sutherland in 1964, Sutherland continued to back Licklider's craving for an ARPA computer network. Bob Taylor replaced Sutherland as IPTO director in 1966, and managed to receive $1,000,000 in funding from ARPA director C.Herzfeld to build an ARPA computer network.

Taylor decided that the ARPA computer network should use packet switching to transport data across the network. Due to Larry Roberts theoretical experience with packet switching, Taylor hired Larry Roberts in 1966 to build the network. Roberts planned the network in 1967, outlined the blueprint in 1968, and it became operational in 1969. Named ARPANET, it originally had four nodes in the US, but, soon expanded to include nodes all across the US and globally to Europe and other international locations.

ARPA/DARPA continued to fund ARPANET until the late 1980's. The original protocols of ARPANET evolved into TCP/IP; which is the protocol suite which is used by the Internet. The development process of the Internet - Request for Comments and IEFT (NWG) - was conceived and refined during the development of ARPANET. Therefore, it would be fair to say that ARPANET gave birth to the Internet, and in turn, the Information Processing Techniques Office propagated "the whole shebang".

The Information Processing Techniques Office has, of course, researched and developed a wide range of projects - ARPANET being one of many. The IPTO has played a leading role in devising robust computer systems that could survive military attacks. ARPANET, it is claimed, was developed to survive a nuclear attack: multiple nodes, without a central hub, that can continue to function if one node (installation) is destroyed. Some other IPTO's projects: BICA, VIRAT, FORESTER and Deep Green.

The IPTO no longer exists: it was merged with another agency within DARPA to form the Information Innovation Office. As of 2014, the program managers within the information Innovation Office are: Steve Jameson, Angelos Keromytis, John Launchbury and David Doermann.