MITH Conference Room, McKeldin Library B0135

"From ARPANET to the Internet: How a Military Project became a World-Wide Cultural Phenomenon, 1970-1995?

by PAUL E. CERUZZI

The emergence of a commercialized Internet is a very recent phenomenon. Historians and other scholars have examined its early history, especially its origins in the military-sponsored project ARPANET, named after the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency. At the other end of the scale, scholars, business journalists, and others have examined the rise and fall of the "dot.com" phenomenon, with studies of companies including Amazon, AOL, and Google. What is missing is a study of the transition between the two: how a network funded by taxpayers, and intended for a restricted set of users for restricted purposes, evolved into a worldwide cultural phenomenon, open to all, with almost no restrictions on its use for commercial purposes.

This paper is based on two forthcoming books by the author: one an analysis of the commercialization of the Internet, and the other on the role of northern Virginia as a locus of Internet management and governance.

PAUL E. CERUZZI is Curator of Aerospace Electronics and Computing at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. His work there includes research, writing, planning exhibits, collecting artifacts, and lecturing on the subjects of microelectronics, computing, and control as they apply to the practice of air and space flight. Dr. Ceruzzi attended Yale University and the University of Kansas, from which received a Ph.D. in American Studies in 1981.

He is the author or co-author of several books on the history of computing and related topics: Reckoners: The Prehistory of The Digital Computer (1983); Smithsonian Landmarks in the History of Digital Computing (1994, with Peggy Kidwell); A History of Modern Computing (1998); and Beyond the Limits: Flight Enters the Computer Age (1989). The latter book was published in connection with an exhibition of the same name at the National Air and Space Museum. He recently co-edited, with James Trefil and Harold Morowitz, the Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (Routledge, 2001), and he is currently working on a history of Systems Integration firms located in the Washington, D.C. region.

Coming up @MITH 10/16, Brett Bobley (National Endowment for the Humanities): "A Candid Chat About the NEH's Digital Humanities Initiative"

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  • http://www.mith2.umd.edu/programs/mith_speakers_fall_2007.pdf
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