In the early 1960’s, two young college students with innovative ideas started working on a project. Things went slowly at first, but in the blink of an eye, their ideas was destined to change the world as they knew it with such a stark deference that going back to the way things were in the decades before was utterly impossible. With all the technological changes that came with their ideas, things would not/ could not stay in their primitive beginnings. As with Thomas Edison and the light bulb, things were ordained to progress, and progress it did.
Vincent Cerf and Robert Kahn were two of the Internet’s founding fathers, who had visions of computers sharing information especially in the field of scientific research and development as well as in the military field. From all indications, they never anticipated the changes their ideas would bring to the world 50 years later. It is even more massive than these two men, as in each stage of progress and failures, other intelligent men with a vision came on board and added their ideas to make it what it is today.
“People think there’s this moment when the apple hits your head,” Vinton Cerf said, “but nothing this big ever happens like that or because of just one person. The idea to solve those problems which eventually became the internet we know did not come like a lightning bolt” Cerf admitted.
Cerf is now the senior vice president of Internet architecture and technology for WorldCom, but he began his career as a Stanford University computer science student whose research was funded by the Defense Depart to solve its communication problems. It was not an easy task, but round table discussions, trial and error played a great part in eventually connecting every corner of the world by way of the Internet.
As mentioned earlier, the federal government funded the initial research for their project, but limited it to research, education and government uses. It was not meant to have commercial use, unless it would directly serve the goals of its cause, research and education. Interestingly, this policy continued until the 1990’s when independent commercial networks began growing. It then became possible to route traffic across the country from one commercial site to another without passing through the government funded NSFNet Internet backbone.
Contrary to what we heard from VP candidate Al Gore a few years ago, it was not he who invented/founded the Internet. However, in fairness, Bob Kahn and Vinton Cerf acknowledged in a paper titled “Al Gore and the Internet” that Gore has probably done more than any other elected official to support the growth and development of the internet from the 1970’s to the present.”
Credit where credit is due, their work was the cornerstone as such, and has transformed the way people find information and interact with the world. Without their ideas in the beginning, there would be no www, email, or Facebook as we know it. Even instant messaging rely on what these two men set up in the beginning.
Robert E. Kahn is the Chairman, CEO and President of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) which he founded in 1986 after a thirteen year term as the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. (DARPA)
Kahn is reported saying, “Something like the Internet did not just happen whole cloth, we worked on top of a lot of other people.”
From all that is written about these two men, Vinton Cerf and Robert E. Kahn, who have lived long enough to see their humble beginnings blossom into what we know today as the world wide web of information, they realize there were more people involved than just themselves, but a team effort over many years to make it what it is today.
They have shared many accolades and recognition awards since the 1960’s and well deserved for sure.← 10 Companies that Microsoft Gobbled Up in the Early Days 10 Ways to Extend Your Laptop’s Battery Life →