Bob Kahn

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Robert Elliot Kahn
Bob Kahn.jpg
Kahn in Geneva, May 2013
Robert Elliott Kahn

(1938-12-23) December 23, 1938 (age 82)
Alma mater City College of New York (B.E.E., 1960)
Princeton University (M.A., 1962; Ph.D., 1964)
Known for TCP/IP
Spouse(s)Patrice Ann Lyons
Scientific career
Fields Telecommunications, networking
Institutions Bell Labs
Corporation for National Research Initiatives
Doctoral advisor Bede Liu

Robert Elliot Kahn (born December 23, 1938) is an American electrical engineer, who, along with Vint Cerf, first proposed the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), the fundamental communication protocols at the heart of the Internet.


In 2004, Kahn won the Turing Award with Vint Cerf for their work on TCP/IP. [1]

Background information

Kahn was born in New York to parents Beatrice Pauline (née Tashker) and Lawrence Kahn in a Jewish family of unknown European descent. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] Through his father, he is related to futurist Herman Kahn. After receiving a B.E.E. degree in electrical engineering from the City College of New York in 1960, Kahn went on to Princeton University where he earned a M.A. in 1962 and Ph.D. in 1964, both in electrical engineering. At Princeton, he was advised by Bede Liu and completed a doctoral dissertation titled "Some problems in the sampling and modulation of signals." [7] [8] He first worked at Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc., then in 1972 joined the Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) within DARPA. In the fall of 1972, he demonstrated the ARPANET by connecting 20 different computers at the International Computer Communication Conference, "the watershed event that made people suddenly realize that packet switching was a real technology." [9] He then helped develop the TCP/IP protocols for connecting diverse computer networks. After he became director of IPTO, he started the United States government's billion dollar Strategic Computing Initiative, the largest computer research and development program ever undertaken by the U.S. federal government. [10]

After thirteen years with DARPA, he left to found the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) in 1986, and as of 2015 is the chairman, CEO and president. [11]

The Internet

While working on the SATNET satellite packet network project, he came up with the initial ideas for what later became the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), which was intended as a replacement for an earlier network protocol, NCP, used in the ARPANET. TCP played a major role in forming the basis of open-architecture networking, which would allow computers and networks all over the world to communicate with each other, regardless of what hardware or software the computers on each network used. To reach this goal, TCP was designed to have the following features:

Vint Cerf joined him on the project in the spring of 1973, and together they completed an early version of TCP. Later, the protocol was separated into two separate layers: host-to-host communication would be handled by TCP, with Internet Protocol (IP) handling internetwork communication. [12] The two together are usually referred to as TCP/IP, and form part of the basis for the modern Internet.

In 1992 he co-founded with Vint Cerf the Internet Society, to provide leadership in Internet related standards, education, and policy.


He was elected as a member to the National Academy of Engineering in 1987 for research contributions in computer networks and packet switching, and for creative management contributions to research efforts in computers and communications.

He was awarded the SIGCOMM Award in 1993 for "visionary technical contributions and leadership in the development of information systems technology", and shared the 2004 Turing Award with Vint Cerf, for "pioneering work on internetworking, including .. the Internet's basic communications protocols .. and for inspired leadership in networking."

Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom by President Bush CerfKahnMedalOfFreedom.jpg
Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom by President Bush

He is a recipient of the AFIPS Harry Goode Memorial Award, the Marconi Award, the ACM SIGCOMM Award, the President's Award from ACM, the IEEE Koji Kobayashi Computer and Communications Award, the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal, the IEEE Third Millennium Medal, the ACM Software Systems Award, the Computerworld/Smithsonian Award, the ASIS Special Award and the Public Service Award from the Computing Research Board. He has twice received the Secretary of Defense Civilian Service Award.

He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Pavia in 1998.

He is a recipient of the 1997 National Medal of Technology, the 2001 Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering, the 2002 Prince of Asturias Award, and the 2004 A. M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. [13] Kahn received the 2003 Digital ID World award for the Digital Object Architecture as a significant contribution (technology, policy or social) to the digital identity industry.

In 2005 he was awarded the Townsend Harris Medal from the Alumni Association of the City College of New York, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the C & C Prize in Tokyo, Japan.

He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May 2006.

He was inducted as a Fellow of the Computer History Museum in 2006 "for pioneering technical contributions to internetworking and for leadership in the application of networks to scientific research." [14]

He was awarded the 2008 Japan Prize for his work in "Information Communication Theory and Technology" (together with Vinton Cerf).

The duo were also awarded with the Harold Pender Award, the highest honor awarded by the University of Pennsylvania School Engineering and Applied Sciences, in February 2010.

He has also served on the board of directors for Qualcomm.

In 2012, Kahn was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by the Internet Society. [16]

In 2013 Kahn was one of five Internet and Web pioneers awarded the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. [17]

Honorary degrees

Kahn has received honorary degrees from Princeton University, University of Pavia, ETH Zurich, University of Maryland, George Mason University, the University of Central Florida and the University of Pisa, and an honorary fellowship from University College, London.

In 2012 he was also recognized as honorary doctor of Saint Petersburg National Research University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics. [18]


See also

Related Research Articles

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Internetworking is the practice of interconnecting multiple computer networks, such that any pair of hosts in the connected networks can exchange messages irrespective of their hardware-level networking technology. The resulting system of interconnected networks are called an internetwork, or simply an internet.

The Internet Protocol (IP) is the network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across network boundaries. Its routing function enables internetworking, and essentially establishes the Internet.

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Vint Cerf American computer scientist

Vinton Gray Cerf is an American Internet pioneer and is recognized as one of "the fathers of the Internet", sharing this title with TCP/IP co-developer Bob Kahn. He has received honorary degrees and awards that include the National Medal of Technology, the Turing Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Marconi Prize and membership in the National Academy of Engineering.

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A long-running debate in computer science known as the Protocol Wars occurred from the 1970s to the 1990s when engineers, organizations and nations became polarized over the issue of which communication protocol would result in the best and most robust computer networks. This culminated in the Internet–OSI Standards War in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which was ultimately "won" by the Internet by the mid-1990s and has since resulted in most other protocols disappearing.


  1. "Robert E Kahn - A.M. Turing Award Laureate".
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2017-03-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Jew of the Week: Bob Kahn - Jew of the Week".
  4. Oral History of Robert Kahn Archived July 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. Who's who in Frontiers of Science and Technology
  6. Paid Notice: Deaths KAHN, LAWRENCE - New York Times. (1999-04-30). Retrieved on 2013-07-24.
  7. "Bede Liu | Dean of the Faculty". Retrieved 2021-09-06.
  8. Kahn, Robert E. (1964). Some problems in the sampling and modulation of signals.
  9. Kahn, Robert E. (1990-04-24). "CBI oral history interview with Robert E. Kahn".Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. "Robert E. Kahn". Corporation for National Research Initiatives. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  11. "CNRI Officers and Directors". CNRI. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  12. Janet, Abbate (1999). Inventing the Internet . MIT Press. p.  130. ISBN   0-262-01172-7.
  13. "Robert E Kahn". A. M. Turing Award. ACM. 2004. Archived from the original on 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2010-01-23. For pioneering work on internetworking, including the design and implementation of the Internet's basic communications protocols, TCP/IP, and for inspired leadership in networking.
  14. CHM. "Robert Kahn — CHM Fellow Award Winner". Archived from the original on April 3, 2015. Retrieved March 30, 2015. Archived 2015-04-03 at the Wayback Machine
  15. "Robert E Kahn". ACM Fellows. ACM. 2001. Retrieved 2010-01-23. For leadership in the design of the Internet, strategic computing, digital libraries, digital object infrastructure and digital intellectual property protection technology.
  16. 2012 Inductees, Internet Hall of Fame website. Last accessed April 24, 2012
  17. "2013 Winners Announced" Archived 2017-01-02 at the Wayback Machine Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering
  18. "Robert Kahn will receive a degree and a mantle of Honorary Doctor of Science in the University ITMO".
  19. Robert Kahn; Vinton Cerf (October 2, 2000). "Al Gore and the Internet". The Register . Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Tadahiro Sekimoto
IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal
with Vint Cerf
Succeeded by
Richard Blahut