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Computer Networking

How the biggest Military-Industrial-Congressional Fraud of the 20th Century launched more frauds and the Internet

SAGE Weapon Director’a Console in 1958

The Internet is a result of the following five main developments, with more to come.

·      First Computer Network: SAGE air defense system, Initiated by MIT in the early 1950s, built by many contractors and operational 1958-1982.

·      General Purpose Interactive Computing: timesharing systems, developed at MIT, beginning operating in 1962 and went commercial in 1965.

·      General Purpose Computer Networking, initiated by people from MIT and funded by the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), resulting in the ARPANET, which largely interconnected academic institutions.

·      Network Interconnections: Internet Protocols developed at Stanford University, released in 1974 and eventually adopted widely, forming the Internet. Also called TCP/IP.

·      Standardized Graphical Terminal Interface: World-Wide-Web, started at CERN in Switzerland in 1990, came into widespread use by 2000 and now is maintained at MIT.

Thus, MIT played a major part in creating the Internet. By chance, Lester Earnest contributed to each of the above developments and is evidently the only person in the world who did that. He also recently gave a one hour talk about these developments that can be seen on YouTube: “How the 20ty Century’s Biggest Governmental Fraud Enabled its Biggest Invention, which Launched the Internet” which tells how the biggest Military-Industrial-Congressional fraud of the 20th Century launched both other frauds and the Internet, which mainly evolved from projects initiated by people at MIT, but after the MIT administration figured out it was crooked they had the good sense to pull out, but the corrupt corporations that were making big money managed to keep it going for 25 years while keeping it out of the public’s view by classifying its major deficiencies SECRET so that if anyone talked about them they would go to jail.. This account strongly conflicts with the fake histories that have been appearing in public media for years.


SAGE in More Detail

SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) was initiated by some MIT professors who were concerned about losing Navy funding for the advancing Whirlwind computer they were developing, so they pretended that computers could automatically track aircraft using radar data, enabling the creation of a semi-automatic air defense system, which they sold to the U.S. Air Defense Command.

     The trouble was that semi-automatic tracking did not work if there was too much radar data, such as when radar jamming was used. However, in order to keep this mega-project going, MIT and the Air Force classified this deficiency as SECRET and pretended that it worked. Their live demonstrations, put on for public show, did not use any radar jamming, a fact was observable by the many soviet spies here, who came with instrumentation.

     While SAGE was a technological marvel, its fraudulence was kept hidden so that the Air Force and corrupt contractors such as IBM, AT&T, GE, Boeing, Lockheed, and Convair, among others, could keep it going for over 25 years, costing American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. Unfortunately, that kind of piracy is continuing today using dozens of newer corrupt military projects.

     However, after the MIT administration figured out what was going on, they backed away by forming the nonprofit MITRE Corporation in 1958 and pushing all of their people working on SAGE into it, including me. MIT then quit participating in SAGE.

     Regarding the geographical display terminal shown above, each of the thousands of terminals used in the SAGE air defense system’s Direction Centers, also provided a small text display, keyboard controls, a light gun for pointing at display elements (point-and-click), a telephone, and a cigar lighter, because operators had to spend many hours each day at these workstations. There were 23 SAGE Direction Centers spread across North America, each equipped with dual vacuum tube computers occupying an area the size of a football field, with 22 above ground (and vulnerable) in the U.S. and one underground in Canada. Those together with many manned interceptor bases and ground-to-air missile stations came to be called the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) and got an headquarters computer system built under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado.

     Along the way, I designed the weapons guidance and control functions for SAGE and did some preliminary design work for the underground NORAD Headquarters. I also was assigned the task of obtaining Federal Government permission to put nuclear warheads on Bomarc ground-to-air missiles. I knew this was a stupid idea but nevertheless put together a study group that succeeded.

     However, along the way, we figured out that a certain communications defect was likely to cause a missile to erect and prepare to fire but then abort. I then wrote a classified report called “Inadvertent Erection of the IM-99A,” which raised a few eyebrows. However about two weeks later it actually happened in New Jersey, a fact that was kept classified, and I was put in charge of getting it fixed, which was easy. For more on this gigantic fraud, see “SAGE like Forrest Gump”.

     Soon after people saw Air Force propaganda films depicting large screen SAGE displays provided for Generals and visiting members of Congress, Hollywood decided that that was the way to run a war, so from then on, their various war rooms had dim lights with large screen displays for making major decisions. Still later, the underground NORAD computer system was made the start of a fake film whose name escapes me at the moment.

     Some people now try to pretend that fraudulent SAGE system fooled the Soviet Union into not attacking, but the facts are that before SAGE was fully deployed, the threat of a manned bomber first attack had been superseded by ICBMs, against which SAGE could not have offered any defense. Meanwhile the well 0organized Military-Industrial-Congressional Conspiracy has been funding fake defense systems for years, such as the Anti-ICBM systems now being deployed around the world.

SAGE Innovations

SAGE development introduced three major inventions that advanced computer technology:

·      Interactive computing, in which users worked directly with the computer rather than submitting jobs to run under batch processing, which generally took hours to days to get results;

·      Magnetic core memory, which provided direct access to much larger amounts of data than were practical using the earlier Williams tubes.

·      Computer networking, which enabled the 23 SAGE Direction Centers spread across North America to collect radar data from more than a thousand radar sites and attempt to track enemy bombers, manned interceptors, and ground-to-air missiles so as to provide packet radio guidance to the latter two to intercept bombers. This system introduced the use of modems and packet data communications, though those terms were not yet in use.


General Purpose Timesharing

This became another MIT invention. Those of us who had helped design SAGE had become aware that interactive computing was vastly superior to batch processing but figuring out how to do it in a general way for multiple independent users, rather than multiple people working on a single task, was a serious challenge.

     A number of people, including I, wrote vague ideas on how to do it but things did not get moving until a recently arrived professor, John McCarthy, saw the SAGE prototype in action, specifically the XD-1 computer at Lincoln Lab, and decided that he wanted to use such a machine in his research on artificial intelligence. He wrote a note on how to do it that inspired a number of MIT-related groups to build the first timesharing systems, which inspired the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) to design and build the first commercial timesharing system, the PDP-6. For more on the creation of general purpose timesharing see Who invented timesharing?

     Meanwhile, John McCarthy moved to the Stanford Mathematics Department and started building the first display-based general-purpose timesharing system using a DEC PDP-1 computer. In 1965, he and his Artificial Intelligence Project moved into the newly formed Computer Science Department, then got much greater funding from ARPA and ordered a DEC PDP-6 for use in a new computer research facility that was subsequently designed and set up by me upon my arrival late that year.


The first general purpose computer network, was another MIT spinoff, given that its early initiators, J.C.R. “Lick” Licklider, Ivan Sutherland, Leonard Kleinrock, Larry Roberts and I had worked in the MIT environment for years. Lick and I had linked up in 1949 when he gave me my first summer job as an undergraduate, working as a guinea pig on evaluating alternative ways of encoding and digitally transmitting human speech. Beginning in 1956, he and I helped design the SAGE network. Lick then documented the need for both timesharing and networking and was recruited by the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to set up an Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) to fund and monitor computer-related research.

     In 1964 Lick handed off that office to Ivan Sutherland who, together with UCLA Professor Leonard Kleinrock, attempted to initiate an experimental campus network there, but it was blocked by campus politics. However, Ivan did succeed in getting Larry to assemble an experimental connection between MIT’s TX-2 computer and System Development Corporation’s Q-32 computer in Santa Monica.

     In 1965, Ivan attempted to recruit me to join his office, but I stated that my goal was to get as far from the Pentagon as possible. After half a minute, he then suggested that I apply for a job at Stanford University, where he had just awarded a contract for about $2.5 million, then discovered that the Principal Investigator was not a manager. I promptly got my family to join me in a nonstop car trip to Stanford, taking turns with my wife in driving and sleeping. There I interviewed several people and was subsequently hired as Executive Officer of the new research lab, where I designed, set up, and named the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL).

     Ivan subsequently recruited Robert Taylor to join IPTO and Bob later took over, then recruited Larry Roberts to plan the computer network that Lick had been asking for. Roberts put together a committee including his former MIT colleagues, Len Kleinrock and me, to help him develop performance specifications for what eventually became ARPANET. The final two-day meeting of that committee, to review alternative proposals, was held in Monterey, California in November 1976, where I made the local arrangements and brought a secretary to record minutes.

      After reviewing competing proposals from prospective contractors, I voted for BBN, an MIT spinoff, because I had earlier worked with a number of people on their team and knew they could do it. However, a majority of the committee voted for Raytheon, another MIT spinoff.

     Nevertheless, in January 1969 ARPA somehow awarded the contract to BBN and Roberts arranged for a four-node testbed network to be set up for BBN to use in developing network hardware and software, the participants being UCLA, UCSB, Stanford U. (specifically SRI), and the University of Utah. It then took until 1971 for BBN to get it working. My lab (SAIL) was able to join only after I bought more core memory, because our networking software had to be core-resident.

     A number of fake histories now claim that ARANET started in 1969 but that was when they were first able to make an electrical connection but had no networking software at all. Another fact that I recently pointed out to public media is that network neutrality was part of ARPANET from its beginning in 1971 and will continue to help advance networking provided that crooked corporations such as Comcast, AT&T, Time-Warner and the like are unable to evade it.

     However, the claim by Wikipedia and others that packet switching was invented by “Americans Leonard Kleinrock and Paul Baran, British scientist Donald Davies, and Lawrence Roberts” is erroneous in that packet data communications had been thoroughly developed about 15 years earlier in SAGE, though the term “packet” used in this context was not introduced until much later, by Donald Davies, who also overstated his accomplishments. Overall, there is a lot of bogus Internet history in print.

Internet Protocols

Internet Protocols were developed at Stanford University in order to facilitate interconnection between diverse networks, not just those using ARPANET’s Interface Message Processors (IMPs). After finishing his PhD at UCLA while working on ARPANET, Vint Cerf joined the Stanford faculty and initiated this project. Since my lab (SAIL) already had a contract with DARPA, I helped Vint by simply adding his proposal to our contract renewal proposal, which was then funded. Vint recruited a number of Stanford students, including some from SAIL, and also took input from his DARPA sponsor, Robert Kahn.

     There was a competing communications proposal developed by a combination of American and European designers, including Larry Roberts, but the Internet Protocols eventually won that competition, apparently as a result of doing it in completely open source mode, under which developers of protocols on various machines freely shared their work with each other.



This graphical user interface was developed by British Tim Berners-Lee, who was then at CERN in Switzerland and later moved its ongoing development center to MIT.

     The Web enabled applications programs to more efficiently use many different kinds of graphical displays without having to customize them for each kind of display, which facilitated the exchange of readable documents and greatly stimulated commercial development of the Internet.

      Its HTML language used many features of SAIL’s earlier PUB documentation language, developed by Larry Tesler and me, but with a cleaner syntax. Over time the Web is becoming progressively more elaborate.



Modern corrupt corporations such as Comcast, AT&T, and Time Warner now pretend that they invented the Internet and are manipulating governmental authorities to give themselves local monopolies and to end network neutrality so that they can raise service fees on everyone. If they succeed, American networking services, which are already low-grade compared with many other countries, will continue to go downhill.

L. Earnest, The Internet’s grandfather, an inventive fraudster with many descendants, 2013. This account of computer network evolution is under development but still incomplete. Comments and criticism are invited.

L. Earnest, The first computer network was part of the SAGE air defense system, which became the biggest military-industrial-political fraud of the 20th Century, 2013. SAGE never worked but its notable deficiencies were kept secret so that the contractors could keep bilking American taxpayers for twenty-five years.

L. Earnest, SAGE like Forrest Gump. The SAGE air defense system, which was initiated by MIT with funding from the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s, was a technological marvel that provided the first interactive computing system for multiple people. It included the first point-and-click graphical user interface and the first computer network, which spanned the U.S. and provided the technological foundation for the Internet. Each of the 23 main vacuum tube computers occupied the area of a football field.

            However, it was also a fraudulent defense system but that fact was kept classified so that the public would not learn about it. As a result, the conspiracy between Wall Street and the Pentagon that brought this about was able to keep it going for 25 years at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of billions of dollars, making it the biggest such fraud of the 20th Century.

            I have been talking about this publicly for the last 50 years but public media have declined to mention it because they are largely controlled by Wall Street. However some of it has just leaked out – see Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste. Hopefully the public will eventually figure out this ongoing fraud and shut it down.

L. Earnest, CIA’s security theater and lies. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) likes to pretend that everything is secret and that it is acceptable to lie for political purposes and whenever their misconduct is exposed. Their claims should not be trusted by anyone.

L. Earnest, Who invented timesharing?  The answer to that question is “A lot of people”. The feasibility of interactive computing first came to light as an accidental spinoff of the SAGE air defense system, which was the first real time computer system. SAGE included special purpose timesharing services as an accidental byproduct of being the first real time computer system.

F. Corbato, 1963 Timesharing

L. Earnest, E2A is worse that Y2K. Makes fun of both the network paranoia surrounding software malfunctions approaching the Year 2000 (Y2K) and the U.S. Defense Department’s ever-expanding-acronym (E2A), which they later hid. Published in CACM, July 2000.