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The Internet was originally developed by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as a means to share information on defense research between involved universities and defense research facilities. Originally it was just email and FTP sites as well as the Usenet where scientists could question and answer each other. It was originally called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency NETwork).
The concept was developed starting in 1964, and the first messages passed were between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in 1969. Leonard Kleinrock of MIT had published the first paper on packet switching theory in 1961. Since networking computers was new to begin with, standards were being developed on the fly. Once the concept was proven, the organizations involved started to lay out some ground rules for standardization.