Posted on January 2, 2019 by staff

Internet pioneer Dr Larry Roberts dies aged 81

Internet pioneer Dr Larry Roberts dies aged 81

Dr Larry Roberts presenting 'The ARPANET and Computer Networks'
Computer History Museum
Computer History Museum / YouTube
Dr Larry Roberts presenting ‘The ARPANET and Computer Networks’

Dr Larry Roberts, one of the designers behind the original internet, has died aged 81.

As manager of the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, American scientist Dr Roberts created a computer network called Arpanet in the 1960s which pioneered technologies including ‘packet-switching’ data exchange used in the modern-day internet.

Arpanet was used by universities and research institutions and allowed users to communicate via email. However Dr Roberts explained in a 1989 interview published on the Computer History Museum’s website how he had to initially convince these institutions to get on board.

“Although they knew in the back of their mind that it was a good idea and were supportive on a philosophical front, from a practical point of view, they… wanted [to continue having] their own machine,” he said.

“It was only a couple of years after they had gotten on [the Arpanet] that they started raving about how they could now share research, and jointly publish papers, and do other things that they could never do before.”

Arpanet was merged into the internet network in 1983, ten years after Dr Roberts had left to become chief executive of Telenet, a networking company that used packet switching.

Seven years later, Dr Roberts and his co-founders sold Telenet to GTE for $60 million.

Dr Roberts, who is recognised as one of the founding fathers of the internet along with Bob Kahn, Vint Cerf and Len Kleinrock, died on 26th December of a heart attack at his home in Redwood City, California.