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October, 1965: Marill and Roberts link computers together

Last Edit: 06/04/17

October 1965 respresents an important month in relation to computer networking: it was the month that two scientists connected their computers directly together , forming one of the first digital communication networks. The two men that led the experiment was Thomas Marill and Lawrence Roberts, who connected the following computers together at the following locations:

  1. Thomas Marill: Q-32 mainframe computer at System Development Corporation (Santa Monica California)
  2. Lawrence Roberts: TX-2 computer at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory (Lexington, Massachusetts)

The TX-2 computer was developed at Roberts MIT Lincoln Lab and replaced the Lincoln TX-0. Wesley Clark, who would suggest the idea of the ARPANET IMP to Roberts at a later date, was the chief designer of the TX-2. The TX-2 was capable of running Ivan Sutherland's Sketchpad software; the man who contracted Roberts to run the October 1965 experiment. The AN/FSQ-32 SAGE Solid State Computer, simple referred to as the Q-32, was a huge mainframe computer that occupied a whole floor at it's Santa Monica installation site.

The success of the experiment led to Marill and Roberts authoring the paper "Toward a Cooperative Network of Time-Shared Computers" and publishing it at the AFIPS Conference (American Federation of Information Processing Societies); an annual conference that was held from 1961-1990. The contract for the experiment was given to Marill and Roberts from the director of ARPA's IPTO Ivan Sutherland - the successor of Joseph Licklider - who was inspired to develop a 'galactic network' from Licklider. The contract was given to Roberts and Marill, February 1965 and July 1965, respectively, and the actual experiment was conducted October 1965. While the speed of the connection was incredible slow at below 5 kilobits a second, and it was not stable, the connection was good enough to be deemed a success and would lead to the experiment being expanded into a larger networking experiment: ARPANET.