The Internet, then known as ARPANET, was brought online in 1969 under a contract let by the renamed Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) which initially connected four major computers at universities in the southwestern US (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute, UCSB, and the University of Utah). The contract was carried out by BBN of Cambridge, MA under Bob Kahn and went online in December 1969. By June 1970, MIT, Harvard, BBN, and Systems Development Corp (SDC) in Santa Monica, Cal. were added. By January 1971, Stanford, MIT's Lincoln Labs, Carnegie-Mellon, and Case-Western Reserve U were added. In months to come, NASA/Ames, Mitre, Burroughs, RAND, and the U of Illinois plugged in. After that, there were far too many to keep listing here.
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The need to decipher this vital intelligence as rapidly as possibleled Max Newman to propose in November 1942 (shortly after hisrecruitment to GC&CS from Cambridge University) that key parts ofthe decryption process be automated, by means of high-speed electroniccounting devices. The first machine designed and built to Newman'sspecification, known as the Heath Robinson, was relay-based withelectronic circuits for counting. (The electronic counters weredesigned by C.E. Wynn-Williams, who had been using thyratron tubes incounting circuits at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, since 1932[Wynn-Williams 1932].) Installed in June 1943, Heath Robinson wasunreliable and slow, and its high-speed paper tapes were continuallybreaking, but it proved the worth of Newman's idea. Flowers recommendedthat an all-electronic machine be built instead, but he received noofficial encouragement from GC&CS. Working independently at thePost Office Research Station at Dollis Hill, Flowers quietly got onwith constructing the world's first large-scale programmable electronicdigital computer. Colossus I was delivered to Bletchley Park in January1943.
With some exceptions — including Babbage's purely mechanicalengines, and the finger-powered National Accounting Machine - earlydigital computing machines were electromechanical. That is to say,their basic components were small, electrically-driven, mechanicalswitches called ‘relays’. These operate relatively slowly,whereas the basic components of an electronic computer —originally vacuum tubes (valves) — have no moving parts saveelectrons and so operate extremely fast. Electromechanical digitalcomputing machines were built before and during the second world war by(among others) Howard Aiken at Harvard University, George Stibitz atBell Telephone Laboratories, Turing at Princeton University andBletchley Park, and Konrad Zuse in Berlin. To Zuse belongs the honourof having built the first working general-purpose program-controlleddigital computer. This machine, later called the Z3, was functioning in1941. (A program-controlled computer, as opposed to a stored-programcomputer, is set up for a new task by re-routing wires, by means ofplugs etc.)
During the wartime years Turing did give considerable thought to thequestion of machine intelligence. Colleagues at Bletchley Park recallnumerous off-duty discussions with him on the topic, and at one pointTuring circulated a typewritten report (now lost) setting out some ofhis ideas. One of these colleagues, Donald Michie (who later foundedthe Department of Machine Intelligence and Perception at the Universityof Edinburgh), remembers Turing talking often about the possibility ofcomputing machines (1) learning from experience and (2) solvingproblems by means of searching through the space of possible solutions,guided by rule-of-thumb principles (Michie in interview with Copeland,1995). The modern term for the latter idea is ‘heuristicsearch’, a heuristic being any rule-of-thumb principle that cutsdown the amount of searching required in order to find a solution to aproblem. At Bletchley Park Turing illustrated his ideas on machineintelligence by reference to chess. Michie recalls Turing experimentingwith heuristics that later became common in chess programming (inparticular minimax and best-first).
Those who knew of Colossus were prohibited by the Official SecretsAct from sharing their knowledge. Until the 1970s, few had any ideathat electronic computation had been used successfully during thesecond world war. In 1970 and 1975, respectively, Good and Michiepublished notes giving the barest outlines of Colossus. By 1983,Flowers had received clearance from the British Government to publish apartial account of the hardware of Colossus I. Details of the latermachines and of the Special Attachment, the uses to which the Colossiwere put, and the cryptanalytic algorithms that they ran, have onlyrecently been declassified. (For the full account of Colossus and theattack on Tunny see Copeland 2006.)
In general, if you wish to cite an electronic file, you should include either the term "[Online]" or the term "[CDROM]" (enclosed in square brackets) before the closing period terminating the title of the work cited.
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