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Robert 'Bob' Taylor

Last Edit: 10/01/17

Robert 'Bob' Taylor was a pioneer of the Internet, due to his involvement in the creation of ARPANET. ARPANET was the first US packet switching network, and the basis upon which the Internet operates. Taylor was born in 1932, in the 'lone star' state of Texas. Taylor studied and taught mathematics, and worked on the Apollo program at NASA. In the early 1960's Taylor met J. Licklider, who was director of the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) at ARPA. Inspired by the packet switching theory of Paul Baran, J. Licklider had the concept of creating a 'global' computer network which would connect individuals, scientists and governments.

J. Licklider persuaded Taylor to leave NASA in the early 1960's and to join ARPA. Licklider left ARPO in 1964 and was replaced as the director of the IPTO by Ivan Sutherland. Sutherland and Taylor continued to quietly lobby ARPA for the creation of a wide area computer network. Taylor became the third director of the IPTO in 1966 - when he replaced Sutherland - and the "dream" of Licklider came to fruition when Taylor received one million dollars in funding from ARPA to build a wide area computer network.

Taylor persuaded Larry Roberts to leave MIT and join ARPA in 1966 to build ARPANET. While Taylor would continue to provide oversight for the ARPANET project, it was Roberts who would have the "hands on" task of building the network. ARPANET became operational in 1969, and begun with four nodes; it soon expanded to include over twenty nodes, and to include nodes in northern Europe. By 1973-1978, ARPANET was truly a 'global' computer network.

Taylor left ARPA in 1969-1970 - it had become apparent to Taylor that ARPANET would be a success and his continuing involvement in the project was not required. Taylor would work at Xerox in the 1970's, and would be involved in the development of technologies that would be important for personal computers and the Internet: such as, Ethernet.