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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.
In the early days of DARPA’s work on stealth technology, Have Blue, a prototype of what would become the F-117A, first flew successfully in 1977. The success of the F-117A program marked the beginning of the stealth revolution, which has had enormous benefits for national security.