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Stanford University "Birth of the Internet" Plaque

In the summer of 2005, Stanford University had a big event and unveiled a plaque to honour the "Birth of the Internet" (the earliest Internet work was done at Stanford). The plaque named a modest number of people (roughly 30 or so) who had been important in the earliest work; I was very honoured to have my name on that plaque.

I was invited to the unveiling ceremony (but, alas, didn't feel up to attending) You can see a number of pictures of the event here; an image of the plaque on the wall is here, and there's a scan of a paper copy of the plaque which they sent all of us here (so you can read the text). I'm in the "MIT" section, one of four people from MIT selected to be named on the plaque.

I started work on Internet-related stuff (diagnostics for a 1 Mbit/second ring LAN) when I joined the "Computer Systems Research" group at MIT-LCS in the fall of 1977, and started working on actual TCP/IP related stuff shortly thereafter. By March of 1980 I had an IP router sending packets between the ring and a Xerox experimental 3 Mbit/second Ethernet, and went on to do a lot of other IP-related things.

I was one of the first people to see the coming commercialization of the Internet, and urged people in the then-small Internet engineering community to get out in front of the coming wave (for which they punished me by putting me on the first IESG :-). In particular, I initiated the first commercial sales of multi-protocol routers, with Proteon (now defunct, alas); my efforts encouraged Len Bosack to start selling routers with Cisco, and we all know where that went!

Obviously, the Internet has really taken off since the early days, in the late 70's, when the entire Internet community could (and on occasion did :-) sit around a single conference table! (As I was fairly certain, from about 1983 or so, that it would - although we didn't forsee the WWW.) It's really been "a long strange trip" watching it all happen, having been there almost from the very start.

I'm not involved any more in work on the Internet, although for a while I still dabbled in some of the leading-edge computer network research and advanced development activity; the last thing I actively worked on LISP, which I believed to be an important step forward for the architecture of the Internet, finallly separating, as it did, location and identity.

I do occasionally help with recording the history of the early work and subsequent early growth, which remains a vivid memory.

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© Copyright 2006-2016 by J. Noel Chiappa

Last updated: 19/August/2016