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The Computer Science Network (CSNET) was a computer network that began operation in 1981 in the United States. Its purpose was to extend networking benefits, for computer science departments at academic and research institutions that could not be directly connected to ARPANET, due to funding or authorization limitations. It played a significant role in spreading awareness of, and access to, national networking and was a major milestone on the path to development of the global Internet. CSNET was funded by the National Science Foundation for an initial three-year period from 1981 to 1984.