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Robert "Bob" Kahn

Last Edit: 11/04/17

Robert Kahn - usually referred to as Bob Kahn - is a computer scientist who co-designed the initial specification of TCP/IP with Vint Cerf. Due to his work on this protocol suite - which creates a technical architecture bedrock for the Internet - Bob Kahn is referred to as a "founding father of the Internet". Bob Kahn first became involved in the design of the Internet when he was part of Frank Heart's small Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN) group that built the IMP (router) for ARPANET (1968-1969). Vint Cerf was a member of the UCLA team installing the BBN IMP, and thus, a friendship was formed between Kahn and Cerf, which led to Kahn suggesting an improvement to the host-to-host protocols used by the BBN IMPs and ARPANET. This led to Kahn and Cerf writing the first specification of TCP/IP: which would replace the existing ARPANET host-to-host protocol and would become the host-to-host protocol used by the Internet.

Bob Kahn, receiving his Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George Bush.
(Pictured: Bob Kahn receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from United States President George W. Bush)

Bob Kahn is a citizen of the United States of America, and was born in New York City (in the district of Brooklyn) on the 23rd of December, 1938. Bob Kahn began his studies (electrical engineering) at the City College of the City University of New York. The City College campus is located in Manhattan; and covers over thirty acres. After gaining a degree at the City College of the City University of New York, Kahn went on to study to become a Doctor of Philosophy (PH.d) and Master of Arts (MA) at the private 'Ivy League' research university: Princeton University. Bob Kahn worked at a number of engineering companies in the late 1960's, eventually working at BBN to develop the IMP for the ARPA wide area network in 1968. ARPA, later renamed to DARPA, has always had a close working relationship with BBN Technologies (Bolt, Beranek and Newman), and many employees of BBN would later work for DARPA and vice versa. Bob Kahn was no exception, when he began working at the ARPA's Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) in 1972. The IPTO was the ARPA department that funded ARPANET. While at ARPA, Kahn connected twenty computers together using the ARPANET technologies at the International Computer Communication Conference. This display helped to popularise the packet switching technology.

Bob Kahn became the IPTO director in the 1980's, and he helped oversee the $1 billion Strategic Computing Initiative project. This project conducted research into artificial intelligence, but did not produce the results that were hoped for; which led to Jack Schwarz (successor to Kahn at the IPTO in 1986) to cut funding, and the project would soon 'die a death'. Kahn left DARPA in 1986 and founded the non-profit organisation: Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI). The purpose of the CNRI was to promote the development of "network-based information technologies" and it found an important ally in sensator Al Gore. CNRI and Gore would formulate the National Information Infrastructure (NII) report in the late 1980's; what Gore referred to as the Information Superhighway. Kahn would say of Gore: "Congressman Gore provided intellectual leadership by helping create the vision of the potential benefits of high speed computing and communication. As an example, he sponsored hearings on how advanced technologies might be put to use in areas like coordinating the response of government agencies to natural disasters and other crises."

In 1997, President Bill Clinton presented the U.S. National Medal of Technology to Bob Kahn. Kahn is fellow of many organisations - like the IEEE - and has received many international awards.