I dare say that most of us on this forum owe some part of our livelihood to DARPA. I even seem to mark major moments in my life by the amazing accomplishments of DARPA. One such defining moment would be the first manned moon landing by Apollo 11. It all started with the DARPA-developed Saturn V rocket. I was never able to get my Estes Saturn V model rocket to fly right, so DARPA had my admiration right away. Especially since their task of getting to the moon was just a bit more difficult.
The most life-changing innovation for our generation would be the network technology that evolved into the Internet. Stephen Barr — one of my favorite technology columnists — penned an article aptly named, "The Idea Factory That Spawned the Internet Turns 50," for the Washington Post. He refers to Lawrence G. Roberts, who definitely played a significant role:
One of those short-term managers returning for Thursday's anniversary dinner is Lawrence G. Roberts, who led a DARPA team that designed a network that evolved into the Internet. He made some of the key decisions in 1967, when he was 30. As Roberts described it, "Putting A and B together and getting Z. Taking obscure things and seeing there is an intersection there."
He hopes that DARPA will always be able to focus on innovation — "working on something that should change the country and generate the economy shift that the Internet did."
The anniversary dinner mentioned in the article was held on April 10. DARPA has a 50th Anniversary Web site to commemorate the occasion.Final thoughts
Looking back at all of the accomplishments, it gives one hope that DARPA will continue to be the innovative entity that it is. Ironically, we will only learn about most of the accomplishments after the fact, since most programs have a top-secret classification. There is one project that I find fascinating. The Urban Challenge is a program that has teams building autonomous vehicles that can drive in normal urban environments. Now, that's what I am talking about. Happy Anniversary DARPA.
Information is my field...Writing is my passion...Coupling the two is my mission.