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Vint Cerf

Last Edit: 11/04/17

Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn are the men responsible for inventing TCP/IP: which is a communications protocol suite that forms the architecture 'bedrock' for the Internet. TCP/IP refers to two protocols: Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP); although it sometimes used to describe the full suite of Internet protocols. Due to TCP/IP importance, Vint Cerf is sometimes referred to as either a grandfather/father/godfather of the Internet. His contribution to Internet has been acknowledged with numerous awards: including the Turing Award; the preeminent award for computer science. While Vint Cerf's most important contribution to the Internet is TCP/IP, he has also been involved in many other organisational and design aspects of it's development.

Vint Cerf, speaking at a conference, or meeting, a later photo, long after he had co-invented tcp/ip.
(Pictured: Vint Cerf)

Vint Cerf was born on the 23rd of June, 1943, in New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America. Vint Cerf's family moved to California, and he attended a High School in the Van Nuys district of Los Angeles; the same school that Jon Postel studied at, but they were not in the same year group. Cerf was somewhat of a prodigy: working at Rocketdyne on it's Apollo Saturn V rocket F-1 engines while still at high school. Cerf went on to study at Stanford University, then worked at IBM, before studying at UCLA for his master's. His decision to study at UCLA was crucial in relation to the Internet: as Leonard Kleinrock led a UCLA team to install the first node of ARPANET, and Cerf became a member of this team. ARPANET was the first American packet switching network and this project would evolve into the Internet. Cerf met Bob Kahn while installing the IMP (router) for the UCLA node; Bob Kahn was part of the BBN team that built the IMP for ARPANET.

When Cerf finished his studies at UCLA he became a professor at Stanford University. However, he would continue to develop packet switching protocols. Bob Kahn had suggested to him a more efficient and simple protocol solution than the one currently used by APRANET; which was the NCP (Network Control Program). Cerf was intrigued by Kahn's ideas, and together they created the first specification of TCP/IP. The final working version of TCP/IP was co-designed by three teams (BBN, UCL and Stanford) and was funded by DARPA. Vint Cerf led the Stanford team, and was involved in long distance tests of TCP/IP between San Francisco (Stanford) and London (UCL). Throughout the 1980's Vint Cerf played an important role in popularising the adoption of TCP/IP: he helped persuade European networks to adopt IP instead of OSI, and persuaded them to create RIPE. He was a member of Internet Architecture Board (IAB) - helping to evolve TCP/IP - thoroughout the 1980's, and was evolved in the organisations side of the Internet: becoming a founding member of the Internet Society (1992) and ICANN (1998).

Vint Cerf has also 'dipped his toe' into the private sector: he became Google's chief evanglist in 2005. Prior to that he was involved in one of the earliest commercial email services provided by MCI Communications Corporation. Cerf has more recently (2008-2017) been involved in many UN and U.S. committees to discuss Internet related topics such as net neutrality. Cerf has received many awards for his contribution to computer science and the Internet (Prince of Asturias Award, Turing Award etc), has been made an honourary member of many universities (University of St Andrews, University of South Australia etc), as well as being inducted into numerous technological groups (Fellow of the IEEE, Fellow of the Computer History Museum etc). In 1997, President Bill Clinton presented the U.S. National Medal of Technology to Vinton Cerf.