• History
  • History

    DARPA’s history of fundamental breakthroughs has altered defense and the world as we know it. Our nation’s global technological leadership is a result of the enormous contribution Defense innovation has made. 

    DARPA was created in 1958 as the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). The political and defense communities recognized the need for a high-level defense organization to formulate and execute R&D projects that would expand the frontiers of technology beyond the immediate and specific requirements of the Military Services and their laboratories.  

    In 2008, DARPA celebrated its 50th anniversary. Explore videos and read articles highlighting 50 years of DARPA's achievements 

    A Proud History

    Vulture aircraft  © Lockheed Martin 

    The Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik showed that a fundamental change was needed in America’s defense science and technology programs. DARPA was formed to meet this need and rejuvenated our defense technological capabilities. 50 Years of Innovation and Discovery (pdf) 



    A picture of the early internet 

    DARPA’s (or ARPA’s) involvement in the creation of the Internet began with an idea to link time-sharing computers into a national system.


    DARPA and the Internet Revolution (pdf)
    More about the ARPANET
    DARPA Network Challenge


    Stealth Fighter

    Stealth fighter 

    Early efforts by DARPA led to the development of the Air Force F-117 tactical fighter (Stealth Fighter). In Operation Desert Storm, it penetrated air defenses and delivered 2,000 tons of ordnance to account for nearly 40% of all targets with an 80%-85% hit rate, without losing any fighters. More about the Stealth Fighter 


    M16 Assault Rifle

    An M16 

    Through project AGILE and a report to the U.S. military, DARPA was instrumental in adopting the M16 assault rifle as the military's individual weapon of choice, protecting U.S. troops across the globe. More about the M16 



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