Birth of the father of the Internet #history


Extract from The PC Pioneers

On this day in 1943 Vint Cerf was born – he would go on to be called the ‘father’ of the Internet, certainly he was there at its birthing and played a number of the key roles.

He earned a maths degree at Stanford and joined IBM for a short while but then went to UCLA for his master’s and doctorate.  While there he worked with Kleinrock setting up the software for the first two nodes of the ARPANET.  Also at UCLA he met Bob Kahn who was working on the hardware side of the ARPANET.

By 1970 the NWG team had produced the network control protocol (NCP) as an operating system controlling the creation, transmission and reconstruction of packets through the network; this was the system’s ‘backbone’.

In the early 1970s Cerf was an assistant professor at Stanford and his graduate students developed the needed core protocol for the ARPANET to manage its messages as a network of networks; by 1972 Cerf had become chair of the International NWG.

Cerf collaborated throughout with Bob Kahn who was on the East Coast having a spell at Bell Labs and a professorship at MIT before working on the IMPs at BBN.

In late 1972 Kahn was working with IPTO and spoke at the International Computer Communication Conference in Washington DC.  In RFC #371 he described his aim,

‘I am organizing a computer communication network demonstration to run in parallel with the sessions.  This demonstration will provide attendees with the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in the use of a computer network.  The theme of the demonstration will be on the value of computer communication networks, emphasizing topics such as data base retrieval, combined use of several machines, real-time data access, interactive cooperation, simulation systems, simplified hard copy techniques, and so forth.  I am hoping to present a broad sampling of computer based resources that will provide attendees with some perspective on the utility of computer communication networks.’

While at IPTO Kahn saw that this plethora of networks was going to become an issue.  He worked with Cerf to develop a means whereby the networks might be interconnected with the host computers being responsible for their own reliability, rather than it all coming back to the network operator.

The two published a paper in May 1974 entitled A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection which was described as an internetworking protocol using packet-switching among the nodes to share resources.  This defined TCP/IP.

Now the ARPANET had grown up and was ready to birth the Internet.

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