Lawrence Roberts, Who Helped Design Internet’s Precursor, Dies at 81

In late 1966, a 29-year-old computer scientist drew a series of abstract figures on tracing paper and a quadrille pad. Some resembled a game of cat’s cradle; others looked like heavenly constellations; still others like dress patterns. Those curious drawings were the earliest topological maps of what we now know as the internet. The doodler, Lawrence G. Roberts, died on Dec. 26 at his home in Redwood City, Calif. He was 81.

The New York Times: The cause was a heart attack, said his son Pasha. As a manager at the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, Dr. Roberts designed much of the Arpanet — the internet’s precursor — and oversaw its implementation in 1969. Dr. Roberts called upon a circle of colleagues who shared his interest in computer networking for help in creating the technical underpinnings of the Arpanet, integrating and refining many ideas for how data should flow.


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