Lawrence Roberts (scientist)

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Template:Otherpeople Lawrence G. Roberts (born 1937 in Connecticut[1]) received the Draper Prize in 2001[1] "for the development of the Internet" [2] along with Leonard Kleinrock, Robert Kahn, and Vinton Cerf.

As a chief scientist at the Advanced Research Projects Agency, Roberts and his team created packet switching[1] and the ARPANet, which was the predecessor to the modern Internet.


Early life and education

Lawrence (Larry) Roberts grew up in Westport, Connecticut[3] as the son of Elliott and Elizabeth Roberts, who both had earned their doctorates in chemistry[3]. During his youth, he built a Tesla coil[3], assembled a television [3], and designed a telephone network built from transistors for his parent's Girl Scout camp.[3]

Roberts attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his bachelor's degree (1959), master's degree (1960), and Ph.D. (1963), all in electrical engineering. [3]

His son, Pasha Roberts, continued leading edge technology research and won The Massachusetts Institute of Technology $50K Business Startup contest. Pasha's subsequent company, Webline Communications was successfully sold to Cisco Systems in 1999.


After receiving his PhD, Roberts continued to work at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory [3]. Having read the seminal 1961 paper of the "Intergalactic Computer Network" by J. C. R. Licklider, Roberts developed the first computer-to-computer network that could communicate via data packets [3]. In 1966, he became the chief scientist in the ARPA Information Processing Techniques Office, where he led the development of the ARPANet.

In 1973, Roberts left ARPA to commercialize the nascent technology in the form of Telenet[4], the first[1] packet switch utility company, and served as its CEO from 1973 to 1980. He was CEO of NetExpress, an ATM equipment company, from 1983 to 1993. Roberts was president of ATM Systems from 1993 to 1998. He was chairman and CTO of Caspian Networks, but left in early 2004; Caspian ceased operation in late 2006. [5]

Roberts is the founder and current chairman of Anagran Inc. [5] Anagran continues work in the same area as Caspian: IP flow management with improved Quality of Service for the Internet.

Awards and honors

  • IEEE Harry M. Goode Memorial Award (1976 ), "In recognition of his contributions to the architectural design of computer-communication systems, his leadership in creating a fertile research environment leading to advances in computer and satellite communications techniques, his role in the establishment of standard international communication protocols and procedures, and his accomplishments in development and demonstration of packet switching technology and the ensuing networks which grew out of this work." [6]
  • L.M. Ericsson Prize (1982) in Sweden [7]
  • Member, National Academy of Engineering (1978)[7]
  • Computer Design Hall of Fame Award (1982)[7]
  • IEEE W. Wallace McDowell Award (1990), "For architecting packet switching technology and bringing it into practical use by means of the ARPA network." [7][8]
  • Association for Computing Machinery SIGCOMM Award (1998), for "visionary contributions and advanced technology development of computer communication networks". [7][9]
  • IEEE Internet Award (2000) For "early, preeminent contributions in conceiving, analyzing and demonstrating packet-switching networks, the foundation technology of the Internet." [7][10]
  • International Engineering Consortium Fellow Award (2001)[7]
  • National Academy of Engineering Charles Stark Draper Prize (2001), "for the development of the Internet" [2]
  • Principe de Asturias Award 2002 in Spain "for designing and implementing a system that is changing the world by providing previously unthought of opportunities for social and scientific progress." [11]
  • NEC C&C Award (2005) in Japan "For Contributions to Establishing the Foundation of Today's Internet Technology through...the Design and Development of ARPANET and Other Early Computer Networks that were Part of the Initial Internet." [12]

External links

  • Oral history interview with Lawrence G. Roberts. Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota. Roberts directed the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) during 1968-1973 and was later chief operating officer of Network Express. The interview focuses on IPTO and the Advanced Research Projects Agency. Much of Roberts' description of the work of ARPA and IPTO is set within the context of his interactions with Congress on budget matters. Topics include J. C. R. Licklider, Ivan Sutherland, Steve Lukasik, Wesley Clark, ARPA and IPTO support of research in computer science, computer networks, and artificial intelligence, the ARPANET, the involvement of universities with ARPA and IPTO.
  • Oral history interview with Robert E. Kahn. Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota. Kahn discusses the work of various DARPA and IPTO personnel including J. C. R. Licklider, Vinton Cerf, and Larry Roberts


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "2001 Draper Prize Recipients' Bios". National Academy of Engineering. 2001. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Previous Recipients of the Draper Prize". National Academy of Engineering. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Josh McHugh (2001-05). "The n -Dimensional Superswitch". Wired Magazine. 
  4. Otis Port (2004-09-27). "Larry Roberts:He made the Net Work". Business Week. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bobby White (2007-10-02). "Its Creators Call Internet Outdated, Offer Remedies". The Wall Street Journal. 
  6. "Harry H. Goode Memorial Award". IEEE. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 "Brief Summary of Recipients' Careers". NEC. 2005-11-17. 
  8. "W. Wallace McDowell Award". IEEE.;jsessionid=H3CQpNFv6QyzpHGF883QFQ3p1MGLLr25rRPQcrQ6LQsqpxsgQxVs!-822946952. 
  9. "SIGCOMM Awards". ACM SIGCOMM. 
  10. "IEEE Internet Award Recipients". IEEE. 
  11. "The Internet is one of the most eloquent examples of the benefits that accrue from scientific research and a commitment to technological innovation. A myriad of people and institutions were involved in this work. The jury wishes to acknowledge them all in awarding the prize to the four leaders of so extraordinary a development."The Jury for the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research 2002 (D. José Luis Álvarez Margaride, D. Ernesto Carmona Guzmán, et al.) (2002-05-23). "Minutes of the Jury - Technical and Scientific Research 2002". Fundación Príncipe de Asturias. 
  12. "The great success and popularity of the Internet are due to the efforts of a great many people, but it was the three members of Group B who truly created the technological foundation for its success...Dr. Roberts, at ARPA, was responsible for creating the first computer network, the ARPANET, and for its architecture and overall management." "Foundation for C&C Promotion Announces Recipients of 2005 C&C Prize - Mr. Kei-ichi Enoki, Mr. Takeshi Natsuno, Ms. Mari Matsunaga, Dr. Robert E. Kahn, Dr. Lawrence G. Roberts, & Professor Leonard Kleinrock". NEC. 2005-11-17. 
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