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and Cerf harbored an intense love for computers. Crocker had trained
himself on an IBM 360, and he spent the summer after high school
furthering his programming skills on UCLA's IBM 7090 and IBM 1401
mainframes. The next fall, he finally enrolled at the university,
proceeding in fits and starts toward a degree, and by 1967 he was
headed to MIT for graduate studies.
meanwhile, attended Stanford on a full scholarship. He started out
there as a math major, but soon was hooked on serious computing.
"There was something amazingly enticing about programming," he says.
"You created your own universe and were the master of it. The computer
would do anything you programmed it to do. It was this unbelievable
sandbox in which every grain of sand was under your control."
completing their Ph.D.s, Crocker and Cerf, like their overachieving
peers, could have taken up any number of challenging jobs in the
defense or computer industries. Odds are high, in fact, that the
two young scientists would have done just that -- were it not for
something very compelling that happened, deep in the corridors of
Boelter Hall, in the summer of 1969.
was a fortuitous time for computer science and the proto-digerati.
The 1960s were the apex of the Cold War R&D boom, and computer science
was finally coming of age. Research in digital computing particularly
was blossoming. Federal largesse flowed copiously into the nation's
university-based research labs. UCLA's computer science department
received a large chunk of that money.
main sponsor was the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency
(ARPA), which spent millions advancing computer science (and, not
incidentally, creating a legacy unmatched to this day in the history
of government-funded science). ARPA money came to UCLA, MIT and
other major research institutions, where the best and brightest
young scientists and engineers dedicated themselves to the esoteric
business of developing "automatic computation." Together with the
emerging computer industry, they were turning computers into ever
faster, smaller and more powerful calculating machines.