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Nerds 2.0.1
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Networking the Nerds
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In the 1950s, the new field of computer science was introduced on university campuses around the country. MIT was one of the early leaders in the field, and researcher at MIT's Lincoln Lab had access to several mainframe computers. Lincoln Lab also built their own computers including the TX-0 (the first transistorized computer, thus the "T") and TX-2. Both of the TX computers were built by two MIT technicians, Ken Olsen (the founder of Digital Systems) and Wesley Clark.

An MIT psychoacoustrician named J.C.R. Licklider took and immediate and intense interest in computer after Clark demonstrated the TX-0 to him. J.C.R. Licklider Licklider, called "Lick" by his friends and fellow researchers, applied his background in psychology to research how people interacted with computers, and he became known as an expert in human-computer interaction. People at ARPA took notice and offered Licklider the job of director for their new Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO). He accepted the position as the founding director and continued his research in human-computer interaction.

In 1960, Licklider wrote a landmark article titled "Man-Computer Symbiosis". In his article Licklider looked beyond the conventional idea that computers were mere calculators. He saw a relationship with computers where people "will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluation." The computer would take care of the tedious work and allow us to do the important stuff.

Intergalactic Network

In 1962, Jack Ruina, the director of ARPA, offered Licklider the chance to start ARPA's new behavioral science division, and because Licklider was interested in computer science, the new Information Processing Techniques Office as well. It was an opportunity for Licklider to blend his background in psychology and his interest in computers together.

At that time, using one of the world's few computers meant either submitting a "batch job" and waiting up to a day for the results, or logging into a terminal connected to a time-sharing computer. People on time-sharing terminals used the same computer, but it was fast enough to make it appear like they had the computer's complete attention.

Licklider observed how the researchers and students at the Lincoln Lab communicated with each other on time-sharing computers. He theorized that computers augmented human thinking by increasing their ability to communicate. If the whole world, he proposed, could connect through a "intergalactic network" they could share ideas and collaborate in an integrated unit. However, he had no idea how to create this global network.

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