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Pioneers of the Internet

Last Edit: 10/04/17

The Internet, in simple terms, is an inter-linked system of computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite. While there are hundreds of computer scientists who played a role in the development of the Internet, this page will focus upon the persons who helped build ARPANET and the host to host protocols for it. These individuals are described as being the "Pioneers of the Internet"; a pioneer is defined as an individual who: "developed or was the first to use or apply a new method, area of knowledge, or activity." You may ask why, what has ARPANET got to do with the Internet? ARPANET is the first packet switching network developed in North America, and it is packet switching that is the technical foundation of the Internet. The host to host protocols and network architecture developed for ARPANET evolved, over the 1970's and 1980's, into the host to host protocols and network architecture of the Internet.

Stephen Crocker deep in discussion with Vint Cerf, and David House - out of shot - two pioneers of developing host to host protocols.

Pioneers Vint Cerf and Stephen Crocker (pictured) - Created host to host protocols

Most of the individuals listed below, played a significant role in this evolution from the 1970's to the 1990's: though Jon Postel and Vint Cerf probably more so than the others (incidentally they studied at the same high school in California). The Internet Society created the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012, and one of the categories is Pioneers: all of the individuals listed below were inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame as Pioneers.

Donald Davies: born on the 7th of June, 1924 (United Kingdom)
One of two independent inventors of packet switching; packet switching was used by ARPANET and consequently the Internet to transfer data.

Douglas Engelbart: born on the 30th of January, 1925 (United States of America)
Along contributing to the invention of the computer mouse, Engelbart was head of one of the first two nodes of the ARPANET computer network (forerunner to the Internet).

Leonard Kleinrock: born on the 13th of June, 1934 (United States of America)
Worked on queueing theory for packet switching, and played an important role in developing ARPANET, a computer network which was a forerunner to the Internet.

Jon Postel: born on the 6th of August, 1943 (United States of America)
Helped standardise the Internet; was a principle editior of Request for Comment (RFC) and oversaw IP address allocation whilst working at the IANA.

Joseph Licklider: born on the 11th of March, 1915 (United States of America)
Played an important role in influencing and inspiring computer scientists to develop 'wide area' computer networks. Viewed as the 'father' of wide area networking.

Lawrence Roberts: born in 1937 (United States of America)
Robert Taylor placed Lawrence Roberts in charge of developing ARPANET; his team of scientists developed the architectural design of what would become the Internet.

Paul Baran: born on the 29th of April, 1926 (United States of America)
One of two independent inventors of packet switching; packet switching was used by ARPANET and consequently the Internet to transfer data.

Peter Kirstein: born in 1933 (United Kingdom)
Created one of the first two international nodes (in the UK) for ARPANET, and went on to develop the primary 'link' between the United States and the UK for the Internet.

Robert Taylor: born in 1932 (United States of America)
He oversaw development of ARPANET; and was also the individual who suggested that packet switching should be implemented in ARPANET.

Robert Kahn: born on the 23rd of December, 1938 (United States of America)
Co-invented the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet protocol (IP); which are the first two protocols used in the Internet protocol suite.

Steve Crocker: born on the 15th of October, 1944 (United States of America)
Invented Request for Comment (RFC); which has played an essential role in standardising the technical development of the Internet.

Vinton Cerf: born on the 23rd of June, 1943 (United States of America)
Co-invented the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet protocol (IP); which are the first two protocols used in the Internet protocol suite.