Last year, 2019, reminded us of many things that reached milestone anniversaries; Collapse of the Berlin Wall (30), Birthday of my niece (30), First moon landing (50), Woodstock Music Festival (50). 

The Amazing Mets (50), Nintendo Gameboy (30), Sony Walkman (40), Three-Mile Island Nuclear Accident (40), Sesame Street (50).

Beatles Last Public Performance (50), WWII D-Day Landings (75), Treaty Ending WWI (100), and First African Slaves kidnapped and forced to America (400) to summarize just a few.

2019 was a year of importance for us to remember our history.

But, unless I missed it, one event that molded the last third of the 20th Century seemed to slip by without fanfare equal to its significance.

In 1969, the Internet became a reality. Not the version so essential to our lives today, but the precursor created so government agencies and researchers could share ongoing scientific study and communicate by a dinosaur-like email system.

By 1976, post-Army tour of duty, I had been hired by the US Treasury Department. As one of the young guys (Damn: 44 years ago?!?) in the trenches, I was deemed to be trainable in the recently adapted computer system called ARPANET. (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network or as known today, The Internet.)

The ARPANET was funded by on budget and off budget dollars coming from you and DARPA. Yes, that DARPA: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, famous (infamous) for providing, in addition to the Internet, the American Taxpaying public with:

1. GPS-Global Positioning Satellites

2. High Resolution Satellite Imagery

3. Multi-Level Security Access for Networks

4. The "Cloud" (Shared Storage)

5. Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri and even IBM's WATSON Computer but….

 DARPA has also spent our dollars on:

1. DARPA burned through tens of millions trying to identify and recruit telepaths who could conduct "remote viewing" and thus perform espionage against the Soviets by telepathy. The verdict is still out on how much additional money was spent evaluating the efficacy of tinfoil hats as a defense tool for thwarting soviet telepathic counter-measures, and my all time favorite.

2. In 1999, DARPA spent $80 million to develop a Hafnium Bomb. The development proposal came from a physicist in Texas that claimed that he had unlocked the secret to make a baseball-sized bomb with power of a tactical nuclear blast, which released no radiation and therefore was exempt from all nuclear weapons treaties. The sur un coup de tête in being awarded the $80 million research grant was that the physicist claimed, and the Defense Agencies believed lock stock and barrel, that he was able to create the needed isotope with an ordinary off the shelf dental X-ray machine.

If you saw the Hafnium Bomb story in an episode of "Jack Ryan," you would say "Ridiculous" and change channels in disbelief. Truth is many times stranger than fiction; especially where government spending our money is concerned. 

However, I digress. We were talking about milestone anniversaries and … oh yeah, DARPA-Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was formalized in 1959 and is now 60 years old.

You will have to do your own cost-benefit analyses to determine if you think you have gotten your money's worth over the years.

But you know, given the impact of some of their successes, I'm kind of anxious to see what DARPA comes up with next.

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