Arlington Invented the Internet

by ARLnow.com May 16, 2011 at 11:58 am 7,392 47 Comments

You won’t find this on Wikipedia, but the internet was invented in Arlington in the 1970s.

On Tuesday, the County Board will recognize several former employees of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) who were instrumental in creating ARPANET, the forerunner of the internet. As part of the ceremony, which is set to take place just after 3:00 p.m., the county will show off two new historical markers that will be erected at 1400 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn, DARPA’s former headquarters.

The marker will read:

The ARPANET, a project of the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense, developed the technology that became the foundation for the internet at this site from 1970 to 1975. Originally intended to support military needs, ARPANET technology was soon applied to civilian uses, allowing information to be rapidly and widely available. The internet, and services such as e-mail, e-commerce and the World Wide Web, continues to grow as the under-lying technologies evolve. The innovations inspired by the ARPANET have provided great benefits for society.


Attending the meeting will be Steve Lukasik, former DARPA director, and several of his colleagues. The county will present each with a certificate, complete with the agency’s name spelled in binary code. As part of the ceremony, AVN, the county’s TV network, will air a short film on DARPA’s role in creating the internet.

DARPA is currently headquartered at 3701 N. Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square, but will be moving to a new office building — currently under construction — at 675 N. Randolph Street in Ballston, perhaps as early as the first quarter of 2012.

  • Funny. I thought the internet was invented in Al Gore’s mind.

    • dynaroo
      • Clumsy wording or not, Al was likely impaired by all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. He’s excused.

        • KG

          Al Gore served his country and won the Nobel peace prize. He has done great things for this country and the world. What have you done besides troll internet forums?

        • dynaroo

          Glen Beck told me CO2 is harmless, cuz we breathe it.

          • We breath nitrogen too, but put us in a 100% nitrogen atmosphere and see what happens……

            Beck is an idiot, no doubt. Gore did write that CO2 levels were elevated, and presented data, from the top of a volcano. I buy it Al, but I don’t buy it at the same time. He’s one passionate guy and for that I applaude him.

          • dynaroo

            Same goes for CO2. I urge Beck to test his proposition by putting a plastic bag over his head.

            Who cares what Al Gore says anyway? He’s not the official spokesman for science. People walk around acting like Al Gore matters to climate change theory. “Al Gore’s house uses lots of energy, therefore global warming’s a hoax. Al Gore said some fact that’s wrong, therefore the entire pursuit of science is a joke.”

          • Ha ha…funny. Nitrogen just passes through humans inertly. CO2 is produced by humans while we consume oxygen. Aside from fossil fuels, R12, and other compounds we make the increase in human population with the deforestation we do is the biggest blame. Oh, let’s not forget the earth spews out 100x more than that each year either naturally.

          • Thes

            Nitrogen can kill you, too.

          • Lack of oxygen can kill you. Air is 79% Nitrogen and you’ve been breathing it in your whole life.

          • Ah, Thes, didn’t see the link at first. Very true.

      • Michael H.


        When you listen to it, it sure sounds like he’s taking a lot of credit for the existence of the Internet. Call it clumsy phrasing or campaign self-promotion or just his ego. It’s probably the result of all three. But I don’t think people are that far off the mark in joking about him claiming to have invented the Internet.

        Besides, I think the new plaque is a secret way of acknowledging Mr. Gore’s preeminent greatness. He was (and still is?) a long-time Arlington resident. So Arlington actually DID create the Internet!

  • Arlingtonian

    What about Al Gore? Will he be there?

  • KG

    markets -> markers

  • dynaroo

    Just stopping in to view the obligatory Al Gore comments. Carry on.

  • Wilbur

    Yip. Here is information on the invention of the Internet / ARPANET.

    It is disappointing that in the county where the ARPANET was created (funded with a project plan – MIT and the academics did the inventing) so many of the schools are so stubbornly resistant to integrating technology into the classrooms. At Williamsburg Middle School, when teachers were challenged on why they dont communicate with parents using IT, the response was – oh, we cant force the teachers to use the IT. Bleah

  • KG

    Stop it.

    Per Snopes: http://www.snopes.com/quotes/internet.asp

    Al Gore: “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.”

  • Wilbur

    Okay pop quiz. Two questions and you must get both right.

    What did Al Gore Actual say?

    Do the people who built the Internet credit Al Gore for his work?

    What Gore said was

    “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”

    He never claimed to invent the Internet. He very clumsily was talking about his legislation, the High Performance Computing Act. which basically moved the Internet from a private govt wonk project, to a publicly available successful Internet.

    What do the Internet god-fathers say? Well the two guys who invented the Internet protocol are Bob Kahn and Vint Cert. And they say

    “Al Gore was the first political leader to recognize the importance of the Internet and to promote and support its development.”


    • We get it. His wording was clumsy, and he was a political groundbreaker. That said, it is still fun to poke fun at him and other politicians (of any party) who say things that allow you to poke fun at them. We all do it all the time.

      • dynaroo

        Oh, I don’t mind poking fun at politicians. It’s just getting to be a really, really, really old joke.

        • Yeah, it probably is. Just like Clinton/Monica jokes. Just like GW jokes. Obama jokes are the new “in thing”.

          • KalashniKEV

            That just reminded me… when do the interns arrive in town? 😉

          • Plan on getting a Lewinsky?

          • KalashniKEV

            Nah, I’m sure I can do better than that. Only a complete and total loser would stoop that low… lol.

  • ConstantCritic

    I hope the marker is not in granite, on a flimsy metal pole, ugly on the back and easy to steal. Oh wait, the County would never do that ….

    • Thes

      More likely precast concrete made to look like a more expensive kind of stone. People generally won’t take those kinds of things for granite.

  • CrystalMikey

    Very cool.

  • Steve S

    For the wording on the plaque, isn’t the official way to describe electronic mail “email” vs “e-mail”? AP stylebook says so…


    • dynaroo

      Hey, you’re right – it just changed a few months ago.

  • Dan

    “1400 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn,”

    Hmmmm, and the parking garage used by “Deep Throat” to communicate with Woodward was at 1401 Wilson Blvd…………..

  • SArl

    I thought the internet was designed via the National Academy of Sciences for inter-university communications…..

    • dynaroo

      That’s the cover story. Shhh.

  • Al G.

    This is an outrage

  • It’s interesting that Arlington is trying to claim credit for that which was “invented” in Cambridge, MA at BBN and UCLA in Los Angeles.

    • PhilL

      It is?

    • DARPAbuff

      It depends on your definition of “invented”. Yes, The ARPA team used ideas they had conceived at BBN and MIT; BBN won the contract to physically build the network; and UCLA sent the first message.

      But the team was working in Rosslyn when they fleshed out the design and specs, and they also built the prototype there.

      SArl: the NSF-funded networks (BITNET, CSNET, etc) came online many years later.

      More details here: http://www.isoc.org/internet/history/brief.shtml

    • MC

      DARPA was the catalyst for creation of the Internet. It wouldn’t happened without their foresight to recognize its value beyond being a theoretical curiosity, and their ability to marshall support and funding to make it happen. The people who got DARPA funds were the implementers of DARAPA’s vision. One shouldn’t underestimate the importance of identifying new possibilities and making them happen — it’s what distinguishes entrepreneurial creativity from engineering problem solving.

  • RosRes


  • Hmmm

    If this is how the sign is actually worded, it’s grammatically incorrect:

    “The internet, and services such as e-mail, e-commerce and the World Wide Web, continues to grow as the under-lying technologies evolve.”

    To be grammatically correct, “continues” should be “continue”:

    “The internet and services such as e-mail, e-commerce and the World Wide Web continue to grow as the underlying technologies evolve.”

    Also, while it’s a matter of the writer’s style and not a grammar rule (as far as I know), I’d remove the commas after “internet” and after “web”.

    • I’ll bite…

      The way you rephrased it is grammatically correct. However, it would also be correct like this:

      “The internet, along with web-based services such as e-mail [blah blah], continues to evolve…”

      The above way makes the phrase in commas a nonessential clause, meaning the subject is still just “The internet.” Omitting the commas and using “and” makes the other items part of the subject, requiring the change of verb tense, as you noted.

  • El Chipotle


  • Roquer

    If the internet was first conceived in the Pentagon, at that time, the Pentagon was not part of Arlington. Later, both the Pentagon AND National (now Reagan) Airport was annexed into Arlington so that ACPD could assist with emergency response quicker than MPD cops could.

  • Chuck

    “the Pentagon was not part of Arlington. Later, both the Pentagon AND National (now Reagan) Airport was annexed into Arlington so that ACPD could assist with emergency response”

    Where did you get that? The airport has been paying their taxes to Arl for as Long as I’ve been around here. (that is the bottom line) and the Pentagon (although a federal bldg) is in Virginia. Thus Arl.

  • Frederick

    Pictures from todays event http://barlington.blogspot.com/


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