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  • 10.17.16

Leo Beranek, who helped bring us the internet, has died

Over at the New York Times site, Glenn Rifkin has an excellent obituary of Leo Beranek, who died on October 10 at his home in Massachusetts. Beranek was a distinguished acoustic engineer, but I bring him up here because the consulting company he cofounded, Bolt Beranek & Newman, got a U.S. Department of Defense contract in 1969 to build a network that would come to be called Arpanet—and, long after that, the internet. 

BBN was among the most influential tech companies that never became a household name, and many of its alumni went on to do important work elsewhere. (In fact, I met with one of them earlier today, in conjunction with an article I can’t tell you about yet.)

Among the fascinating tidbits in Rifkin’s obit: BBN, which was founded in 1948, was originally devoted to acoustics work and branched into computers because Beranek thought it would become a bigger business—an early savvy example of a tech company pivoting. HM