Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

DARPA History

History of DARPA and its accomplishments

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06/05/2020
The history of technology is a rich story with individual, institutional, corporate, and governmental protagonists driven by necessity, the pursuit of fame and fortune, and visions of becoming more powerful actors in the world. The invention and proliferation of new technology has been a primary driver of both local and civilization-scale transformation. It’s a story that features brilliance of the highest order, dogged determination, good luck, bad luck, glorious successes, miserable failures, happy accidents, and lamentable unintended consequences. When it was founded in 1958 in the midst of the Cold War with a charge to prevent technological surprise by potential adversaries, DARPA became part of the ongoing technology story and has been conspicuously influential ever since.
01/01/1980
DARPA established the Defense Sciences Office (DSO) in 1980, combining the Nuclear Monitoring Research Office, materials science research, and cybernetic technology efforts into a single office. Since its inception, DSO has spawned two additional technology offices at DARPA: the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) in 1992 and the Biological Technologies Office (BTO) in 2014.
01/01/1960
In 1960, ARPA helped establish what now is the burgeoning field of materials science and engineering by announcing the first three contracts of the Agency’s Interdisciplinary Laboratory (IDL) program. Following these initial four-year renewable contracts to Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Northwestern University, the Agency awarded nine more IDL contracts around the country. The program lasted just over a decade when, in 1972, the National Science Foundation (NSF) took over the program and changed its name to the Materials Research Laboratories (MRL) program.