The Sputnik Scare And Its Effects On The World 's Telephone System

871 Words Nov 15th, 2015 4 Pages
The Sputnik scare. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world’s first manmade satellite into orbit. The satellite, known as Sputnik, did not do much other than send radio waves from its transmitters as it circled the Earth. Yet, to many Americans, Sputnik was evidence of something alarming. The Soviets’ success suggested that they might be capable of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles and they were ahead of the United States in scientific and military technology. In response, the federal government formed new agencies, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), to develop cutting-edge technologies such as rockets, weapons and computers (Moschovitis et al. 1999: 39).
The birth of the ARPAnet. According to Grillies and Cailliau (2000), scientists and military experts were especially concerned about a Soviet attack on the nation’s telephone system and how much of an impact it would have on governmental communication. They feared that just a single missile could destroy the whole network that made efficient long-distance communication possible. To solve this problem, a scientist from M.I.T. and ARPA known as J.C.R. Licklider proposed an “intergalactic network” of computers that could communicate with one another. Such a network would allow government leaders to communicate even if the Soviets destroyed the telephone system (Grillies et al. 2000: 12-15).
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