BBN Technologies (originally Bolt, Beranek and Newman) is an American high-technology company which provides research and development services. BBN is based next to Fresh Pond in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. It is a military contractor, primarily for DARPA, and also known for its 1978 acoustical analysis for the House Select Committee on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. BBN of the 1950s and 1960s has been referred to by two of its alumni as the "third university" of Cambridge, after MIT and Harvard. In 1966, the Franklin Institute awarded the firm the Frank P. Brown Medal.
BBN became a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon in 2009. On February 1, 2013, BBN Technologies was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
Founded in 1948, by Leo Beranek and Richard Bolt, professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with Bolt's former student Robert Newman. Bolt, Beranek and Newman started life as an acoustical consulting company. Their first contract was consultation for the design of the acoustics of the United Nations Assembly Hall in New York. Subsequent commissions included MIT's Kresge Auditorium (1954), Tanglewood's Koussevitzky Music Shed (1959), Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall (1962), the Cultural Center of the Philippines (1969) and Baltimore's Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (1978). Experts at the company examined the Richard Nixon tape with the 18.5 minutes erased during the Watergate scandal and the Dictabelt evidence which was purportedly a recording of the JFK assassination.
The substantial calculations required for acoustics work led to an interest, and later business opportunities, in computing. BBN was a pioneer in developing computer models of roadway and aircraft noise, and in designing noise barriers near highways. Some of this technology was used in landmark legal cases where BBN scientists were expert witnesses. BBN bought a number of computers in the late 1950s and early 1960s, notably the first production PDP-1 from Digital Equipment Corporation. BBN was involved in building some of the earliest Internet networks, including ARPANET, MILNET, CSNET, and NEARNET.
A number of well-known computer luminaries have worked at BBN, including Daniel Bobrow, Ron Brachman, John Seely Brown, Jerry Burchfiel, Richard Burton, Edmund Clarke, Allan Collins, Bernie Cosell, William Crowther, John Curran, Wally Feurzeig, Ed Fredkin, Bob Kahn, Stephen Kent, J. C. R. Licklider, John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, Dan Murphy, Severo Ornstein, Seymour Papert, Oliver Selfridge, Bob Thomas, Ray Tomlinson, and Peiter "Mudge" Zatko.
Former board members include Jim Breyer, Anita K. Jones and Gilman Louie.
In the 1970s, BBN created Telenet, Inc., to run the first public packet-switched network.
In 1989, BBN's acoustical consulting business was spun off into a new corporation, Acentech Incorporated, located across the street from BBN headquarters in Cambridge.
BBN formed an early Internet service provider in 1994 as its BBN Planet division. Previously traded as "BBN" on the stock market, the company was purchased by GTE in 1997 as a wholly owned subsidiary. BBN Planet was joined with GTE's national fiber network to become GTE Internetworking, "powered by BBN".
When GTE and Bell Atlantic merged to become Verizon in 2000, the Internet service provider division of BBN was included in assets spun off as Genuity to satisfy Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements, leaving behind the remainder of BBN Technologies. Genuity was later acquired out of bankruptcy by Level 3 Communications in 2003.
In March 2004, Verizon sold the remainder of the company, by then known as BBNT Solutions LLC, to a group of private investors from Accel Partners, General Catalyst Partners, In-Q-Tel and BBN's own management, making BBN an independent company for the next five years.
In September 2009, Raytheon entered into an agreement to acquire BBN as a wholly owned subsidiary. The acquisition was completed on October 29, 2009 and the company was valued at approximately $350 million. In December 2014, the domain name bbn.com, the second oldest currently registered domain name on the Internet, was redirected to www.raytheon.com/ourcompany/bbn/.
Former BBN employees have formed about a hundred startup companies with varying levels of official involvement, including Parlance Corporation and EveryZing.
As of 2013, BBN Technologies maintains offices in:Cambridge Highlands, Cambridge, Massachusetts
St. Louis Park, Minnesota
Newport East, Middletown, Rhode Island near Naval Station Newport
Rosslyn, Arlington, Virginia near Washington, D.C.
Digital Force Technologies (DFT) of San Diego, California is a wholly owned BBN subsidiary, purchased in June 2008.
Some of BBN's notable developments in the field of computer networks are the implementation and operation of the ARPANET; the first person-to-person network email and the use of the @ sign in an email address; the first Internet protocol router (then called an Interface Message Processor); the Voice Funnel, an early predecessor of voice over IP; and work on the development of TCP.
Other well-known BBN computer-related innovations include the LOGO programming language, the TOPS-20 (TENEX) operating system, the Colossal Cave Adventure game, the first link-state routing protocol, and a series of mobile ad hoc networks starting in the 1970s. BBN also is well known for its parallel computing systems, including the Pluribus, and the BBN Butterfly computers, which have been used for such tasks as warfare simulation for the U.S. Navy. BBN also developed the RS/1, RS/Explore, and RS/Discover statistical software systems.
BBN was the first networking organization to receive an Autonomous System Number (AS1) for network identification. ASNs are an essential identification element used for Internet Backbone Routing. Lower numbers generally indicate a longer established presence on the Internet. AS1 is now operated by Level 3 Communications following their acquisition of Genuity.
Today, BBN leads a wide range of research and development projects, including the standardization effort for the security extension to the Border Gateway Protocol (BGPsec), mobile ad hoc networks, advanced speech recognition, the military's Boomerang mobile shooter detection system, and quantum cryptography. BBN is also part of the Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI) project for the National Science Foundation which includes a $11.5 million grant for 33 research teams.