Bolt, Beranek, and Newman

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Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (usually referred to as BBN) is a research organization, primarily operating out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. (It was purchased by Raytheon in 2009.)

Started in 1948 to do consulting in acoustics, it broadened its focus to include computers after J. C. R. Licklider joined BBN in the Spring of 1957. A Royal McBee LGP-30 computer, originally ordered by Ed Fredkin personally, before BBN hired him, was purchased in 1958. It was followed by the first PDP-1 produced by DEC in 1960; its acquisition allowed BBN to hire John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky.

BBN eventually built the BBN Pager for the KA10, and produced the TENEX operating system for the PDP-10, to support its other computer research.

BBN got into data networking after it won the contract to build the IMP for ARPA's ARPANET, in 1968. When DARPA (as it had become) then tuned its attention to interconnecting heterogeneous networks, BBN was tasked with producing the first internetwork router (although that term did not then exist); BBN's routers formed the backbone of the Internet for many years.


BBN designed several computers in-house:

  • Pluribus - multiprocessor packet switch
  • MBB - microprogrammable building block
  • C/30 - IMP built on the MBB
  • C/70 - Unix minicomputer built on the MBB
  • Jericho - Lisp and Pascal workstation
  • Butterfly - multiprocessor
  • BitGraph - 68000 based graphics terminal

See also

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