Pentagon Inventing Group Hits 50, Looks to Next Strides

Freewheeling DARPA helped create the Internet
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2008 7:15 PM CDT
Visitors pass by the Saturn V rocket at Johnson Space Center Wednesday, July 18, 2007 in Houston.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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(Newser) – A small Defense Department agency credited with inventing the Internet and rockets that sent men to the moon is turning 50, the Washington Post reports, and is fine-tuning its next innovations. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's work spans biology, satellites and aircraft; it has no permanent labs and its staff has been called “100 geniuses connected by a travel agent.”

Founded in response to the Soviet Union's 1957 launch of Sputnik, DARPA has only two management layers and short-term contracts (4-6 years), helping avoid bureaucratic freeze. The group’s new projects include a two-way speech system that could serve as a full-time electronic translator—and prosthetic limbs that could mimic natural ones.