The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is part of the United States Department of Defense making "pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security". 

Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) on February 7, 1958 in response to the Soviet Union's successful launch of the first satellite into earth's orbit, Sputnik 1, in 1957. The successful launch of Sputnik 1 caught the US government and president Eisenhower off guard. Eisenhower went on to say that ARPA was created to "prevent technological surprise".

ARPA would later be renamed to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1972. DARPA was briefly became ARPA again from 1993-1996, before adopting DARPA again in 1996. According to the Deputy Secretary of Defense at the time, William Perry, DAPRA adopted it's former name ARPA to "expand the agency's mission to pursue imaginative and innovative research and development projects having significant potential for both military and commercial (dual-use) applications."

Technologies developed by DARPA

Since the founding of DARPA in 1958, the agency has been responsible for developing several important technologies. Notable technologies developed, or helped, by DARPA include: the internet, graphical user interfaces (GUIs), the weather satellite, interactive maps (Example: Google Maps), voice-recognition systems (Example: Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri), Unix, cloud computing, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). 


Living Foundries

This program seeks to enhance national defense through improving the synthetic biology capabilities of the United States of America. The living foundries program consists of two primary programs: 1. Living foundries: Advanced Tools and Capabilities for Generalizable Platforms (ATCG), and 2. Living Foundries: 1000 Molecules.


August 1, 1960

Success of the Corona program

The Corona photo-reconnaissance program was a joint spy satellite program between ARPA and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A satellite from the program successfully took and delivered photos to the United States government that were taken over the Soviet Union, providing military intelligence during the Cold War until the program was decommissioned in 1972. 

April 1, 1960

Launch of first weather satellite (TIROS)

ARPA in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), U.S. Defense Department, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) worked together on the Television and Infrared Observations Satellites (TIROS) program to develop and successfully launch the worlds first weather satellite into orbit. 

January 1, 1960

Establishment of the scientific field of material science

ARPA announced in the first three materials science and engineering contracts to their own Interdisciplinary Laboratory (IDL) program. The IDL program continued issuing new material science contracts until 1972 when the National Science Foundation took over the program changing its name to the Materials Research Laboratories (MRL) program. 

January 1, 1959

Electronically Steered Array Radar (ESAR) program

ARPA pioneers supporting technologies and construction of the first ground-based phased array radars. 

October 4, 1957

The Sputnik surprise and creation of ARPA

The Soviet Union (USSR) successfully launches the worlds first satellite into orbit, surprising the United States government. This event ultimately lead to the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) on February 7, 1958 with the goal of keeping the United States the global technological superpower. 



Andreas Olofsson

Program Manager

Aratl Prabhakar


Brian M. Pierce

Deputy Director of Information Innovation Office

Dan Kaufman


Daniel Wattendorf

Program Manager

Jerome Dunn

Program Manager

Justin Sanchez

Program Manager

Paul Tighman

Program Manager of Microsystems Technology Office

Peter Hihgnam

Deputy Director

Stefanie Tompkins

Acting Deputy Director

Steven H. Walker


Timothy Chung

Program Manager

Tyler McQuade

Deputy Director of Defense Sciences Office

William Chappell

Director of Microsystems Technology Office

Further reading


"Special Forces" Innovation: How DARPA Attacks Problems

Regina E. Dugan and Kaigham J. Gabriel

Web article

DARPA To Fund New AI Concepts With Millions

Sam Shead

News article

DARPA's Biotech Chief Says 2017 Will "Blow Our Minds"

Dina Fine Maron

Web article

Drones Recharged by a Laser Could Fly Forever

Kyle Mizokami

News article

Documentaries, videos and podcasts


Voices from DARPA (Podcast)