I wanted the first blog post of the year to give a little history of Partnet. We are a small business housed on the campus of the University of Utah, in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. The University of Utah is home to one of the first Computer Science Departments and ranks among the world’s top 20 academic programs. The University of Utah was also one of the initial five sites for DARPANET—the predecessor of the Internet.
I’m not going to say we “Invented the Internet” or anything, but Partnet was there at the beginning. Before Netscape, Internet Explorer, or even Mosaic were around, Partnet developed its own web client to allow engineers to use the Internet to source parts located in remote databases. Partnet obtained a patent for searching distributed databases over the Internet. Today this patent is widely used by nearly all Internet companies that crawl the Web (this includes Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and many others).
In 1992, Dr. Don Brown was so impressed with the ideas of his students that he made a video of the capabilities and sent it to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. DARPA has been responsible for funding the development of many technologies that have had a major effect on the world.
Impressed with the idea of a distributed architecture that could search for spare parts from multiple databases, DARPA eagerly funded the project. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) soon joined the project. DLA provides supplies to the military services and supports their acquisition of weapon system repair parts and other materiel. DLA saw this as a new way to support the warfighter.
By 1998, the first DLA eCommerce site was born, DOD EMALL. Partnet’s interest in cutting edge technology did not stop with eCommerce. During the mid-1990s, Partnet became one of the first software companies to adopt the Java programming language. Java revolutionized web-based programming due to its ability to run on any Java Virtual Machine (JVM) regardless of computer architecture. By 1999, the vast majority of DOD EMALL had been rewritten in Java. Partnet also embraced XML, a markup language that relies on the concept of rule-specifying tags. This makes it easier to convert data between different data types, allowing the DOD EMALL to send out orders in multiple formats. By recommending that the Defense Logistics Agency use Linux, an open source operating system without the high licensing fees of other operating systems, to support the DOD EMALL, Partnet saved the government several million dollars in hardware and software licensing fees. Over the years, DOD EMALL has grown from a small research and development project to a billion dollar a year business within the government. Partnet still supports this important Department of Defense world-wide application.
Today, Partnet continues to work on the leading edge of technology, supporting both government and commercial customers and doing research in the areas of website security, medical healthcare records and advanced eMarketplaces. Our engineers are among the best and brightest in the business and take great pride in their work.