Vint Cerf

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Vint Cerf
Dr Vint Cerf ForMemRS.jpg
Vint Cerf at the Royal Society admissions day in 2016
Vinton Gray Cerf

(1943-06-23) June 23, 1943 (age 75)
Alma mater Stanford University
Known for TCP/IP
Internet Society
Scientific career
Fields Telecommunications
Institutions IBM, [2] International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, [2] [3] UCLA, [2] Stanford University, [2] DARPA, [2] MCI, [2] [4] CNRI, [2] Google, [5]
Thesis Multiprocessors, Semaphores, and a Graph Model of Computation  (1972)
Doctoral advisor Gerald Estrin [6]
Signature of Vint Cerf.png

Vinton Gray Cerf [2] ForMemRS, [1] ( /sɜːrf/ ; born June 23, 1943) is an American Internet pioneer, who is recognized as one of [7] "the fathers of the Internet", [8] sharing this title with TCP/IP co-inventor Bob Kahn. [9] [10] His contributions have been acknowledged and lauded, repeatedly, with honorary degrees and awards that include the National Medal of Technology, [2] the Turing Award, [11] the Presidential Medal of Freedom, [12] the Marconi Prize and membership in the National Academy of Engineering.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.

Bob Kahn American Internet pioneer, engineer and computer scientist

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

Turing Award computer science award

The ACM A.M. Turing Award is an annual prize given by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to an individual selected for contributions "of lasting and major technical importance to the computer field". The Turing Award is generally recognized as the highest distinction in computer science and the "Nobel Prize of computing".


In the early days, Cerf was a manager for the United States' Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funding various groups to develop TCP/IP technology. When the Internet began to transition to a commercial opportunity during the late 1980s,[ citation needed ] Cerf moved to MCI where he was instrumental in the development of the first commercial email system (MCI Mail) connected to the Internet.

DARPA agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.

MCI Communications Former telecommunications and networking company

MCI Communications Corp. was an American telecommunications company that was instrumental in legal and regulatory changes that led to the breakup of the AT&T monopoly of American telephony and ushered in the competitive long-distance telephone industry. It was headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Cerf was instrumental in the funding and formation of ICANN from the start. He waited a year before stepping forward to join the ICANN Board, and eventually became chairman. He was elected as the president of the Association for Computing Machinery in May 2012, [13] and in August 2013 he joined the Council on CyberSecurity's Board of Advisors. [14]

ICANN organization responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces of the Internet

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is a nonprofit organization responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces and numerical spaces of the Internet, ensuring the network's stable and secure operation. ICANN performs the actual technical maintenance work of the Central Internet Address pools and DNS root zone registries pursuant to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function contract. The contract regarding the IANA stewardship functions between ICANN and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the United States Department of Commerce ended on October 1, 2016, formally transitioning the functions to the global multistakeholder community.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is an international learned society for computing. It was founded in 1947, and is the world's largest scientific and educational computing society. The ACM is a non-profit professional membership group, with nearly 100,000 members as of 2019. Its headquarters are in New York City.

Cerf is active in many organizations that are working to help the Internet deliver humanitarian value to the world. He is supportive of innovative projects that are experimenting with new approaches to global problems, including the digital divide, the gender gap, and the changing nature of jobs. Cerf is also known for his sartorial style, typically appearing in a three-piece suit—a rarity in an industry known for its casual dress norms. [15] [16]

Life and career

Vinton Cerf in Vilnius, September 2010 Vint Cerf - 2010.jpg
Vinton Cerf in Vilnius, September 2010

Cerf was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Muriel (born Gray), a housewife, and Vinton Thurston Cerf, an aerospace executive. [17] [18] Cerf went to Van Nuys High School in California along with Jon Postel and Steve Crocker; he wrote the former's obituary. Both were also instrumental in the creation of the Internet. While in high school, Cerf worked at Rocketdyne on the Apollo program, including helping to write statistical analysis software for the non-destructive tests of the F-1 engines. [19] Cerf's first job after obtaining his B.S. degree in mathematics from Stanford University was at IBM, where he worked for two years as a systems engineer supporting QUIKTRAN. [2] He left IBM to attend graduate school at UCLA where he earned his M.S. degree in 1970 and his PhD degree in 1972. [6] [20] During his graduate student years, he studied under Professor Gerald Estrin, worked in Professor Leonard Kleinrock's data packet networking group that connected the first two nodes of the ARPANet, [21] the first node [21] on the Internet, and "contributed to a host-to-host protocol" for the ARPANet. [22] While at UCLA, he also met Bob Kahn, who was working on the ARPANet hardware architecture. [22] After receiving his doctorate, Cerf became an assistant professor at Stanford University from 1972–1976, where he conducted research on packet network interconnection protocols and co-designed the DoD TCP/IP protocol suite with Kahn. [22] Cerf then moved to DARPA in 1976, where he stayed until 1982.

New Haven, Connecticut City in Connecticut, United States

New Haven is a coastal city in the U.S. state of Connecticut. It is located on New Haven Harbor on the northern shore of Long Island Sound in New Haven County, Connecticut, and is part of the New York metropolitan area. With a population of 129,779 as determined by the 2010 United States Census, it is the second-largest city in Connecticut after Bridgeport. New Haven is the principal municipality of Greater New Haven, which had a total population of 862,477 in 2010.

Van Nuys High School

Van Nuys High School (VNHS), established in 1914, is a public high school in the Van Nuys district of Los Angeles, belonging to the Los Angeles Unified School District: District 2. The school is home to a Residential Program and three Magnet Programs—Math/Science, performing arts, and Medical.

Jon Postel American computer scientist

Jonathan Bruce Postel was an American computer scientist who made many significant contributions to the development of the Internet, particularly with respect to standards. He is known principally for being the Editor of the Request for Comment (RFC) document series, for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and for administering the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) until his death. In his lifetime he was known as the "god of the Internet" for his comprehensive influence on the medium.

Cerf playing Spacewar! on the Computer History Museum's PDP-1, ICANN meeting, 2007 Vinton Cerf-20070512.jpg
Cerf playing Spacewar! on the Computer History Museum's PDP-1, ICANN meeting, 2007

As vice president of MCI Digital Information Services from 1982 to 1986, Cerf led the engineering of MCI Mail, the first commercial email service to be connected to the Internet. In 1986, he joined Bob Kahn at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives as its vice president, working with Kahn on Digital Libraries, Knowledge Robots, and gigabit speed networks. It was during this time, in 1992, that he and Kahn, among others, founded the Internet Society (ISOC) to provide leadership in education, policy and standards related to the Internet. Cerf served as the first president of ISOC. Cerf rejoined MCI during 1994 and served as Senior Vice President of Technology Strategy. In this role, he helped to guide corporate strategy development from a technical perspective. Previously, he served as MCI's senior vice president of Architecture and Technology, leading a team of architects and engineers to design advanced networking frameworks, including Internet-based solutions for delivering a combination of data, information, voice and video services for business and consumer use.

MCI Mail was one of the first ever commercial email services in the United States and one of the largest telecommunication services in the world. Operated by MCI Communications Corp. from 1983 to 2003, MCI Mail offered its customers a low cost and effective solution for sending and receiving electronic mail.

Internet Society non-profit organization

The Internet Society (ISOC) is an American nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet-related standards, education, access, and policy. Its mission is "to promote the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world".

During 1997, Cerf joined the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University, a university for the education of the deaf and hard-of-hearing. [23] Cerf himself is hard of hearing. [24] He has also served on the university's Board of Associates. [25]

Cerf, as leader of MCI's internet business, was criticized due to MCI's role in providing the IP addresses used by, a vendor of spamware that uses a botnet in order to send spam. MCI refused to terminate the spamware vendor. [26] [27] At the time, Spamhaus also listed MCI as the ISP with the most Spamhaus Block List listings. [28]

Cerf has worked for Google as a Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist since October 2005. [5] In this function he has become well known for his predictions on how technology will affect future society, encompassing such areas as artificial intelligence, environmentalism, the advent of IPv6 and the transformation of the television industry and its delivery model. [29]

Since 2010, Cerf has served as a Commissioner for the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a UN body which aims to make broadband internet technologies more widely available.

Cerf joined the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 1999, and served until November 2007. [30] He was chairman from November 2000 to his departure from the Board.

Cerf was a member of Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov's IT Advisory Council (from March 2002 – January 2012). He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Eurasia Group, the political risk consultancy. [31]

Cerf is also working on the Interplanetary Internet, together with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other NASA laboratories. It will be a new standard to communicate from planet to planet, using radio/laser communications that are tolerant of signal degradations including variable delay and disruption caused, for example, by celestial motion. [32]

On February 7, 2006, Cerf testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's hearing on network neutrality. Speaking as Google's Chief Internet Evangelist, Cerf noted that nearly half of all consumers lacked meaningful choice in broadband providers and expressed concerns that without network neutrality government regulation, broadband providers would be able to use their dominance to limit options for consumers and charge companies like Google for their use of bandwidth. [33]

Cerf currently serves on the board of advisors of Scientists and Engineers for America, an organization focused on promoting sound science in American government. [34] He also serves on the advisory council of CRDF Global (Civilian Research and Development Foundation) and was on the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) International Advisory Board. [35]

Cerf is chairman of the board of trustees of ARIN, the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) of IP addresses for United States, Canada, and part of the Caribbean. [36] Until Fall 2015, Cerf chaired the board of directors of StopBadware, a non-profit anti-malware organization that started as a project at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. [37] [38] Cerf is on the board of advisors to The Liquid Information Company Ltd of the UK, which works to make the web more usefully interactive and which has produced the Mac OS X utility called 'Liquid'. [39] Vint Cerf is a member of the CuriosityStream Advisory Board. [40]

During 2008, Cerf chaired the Internationalized domain name (IDNAbis) working group of the IETF. [41] In 2008 Cerf was a major contender to be designated the US's first Chief Technology Officer by President Barack Obama. [42] Cerf is the co-chair of Campus Party Silicon Valley, the US edition of one of the largest technology festivals in the world, along with Al Gore and Tim Berners-Lee. [43] From 2009 to 2011, Cerf was an elected member of the Governing Board of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP). SGIP is a public-private consortium established by NIST in 2009 and provides a forum for businesses and other stakeholder groups to participate in coordinating and accelerating development of standards for the evolving Smart Grid. [44] Cerf was elected to a two-year term as President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) beginning July 1, 2012. [45] In 2015 Cerf co-founded (with Mei Lin Fung), and is currently chairman of, People-Centered Internet (PCI). [46] On January 16, 2013, US President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint Cerf to the National Science Board. [47]

Cerf is also among the 15 members of governing council of International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad. [48]

In June 2016, his work with NASA led to Delay-tolerant networking being installed on the International Space Station with an aim towards an Interplanetary Internet. [49]

Since at least 2015, Cerf has been raising concerns about the wide-ranging risks of digital obsolescence, the potential of losing much historic information about our time – a digital "dark age" or "black hole" – given the ubiquitous digital storage of text, data, images, music and more. Among the concerns are the long-term storage of, and continued reliable access to, our vast stores of present-day digital data and the associated programs, operating systems, computers and peripherals required to access such. [50] [51] [52] [53]

Awards and honors

Cerf and Bob E. Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush CerfKahnMedalOfFreedom.jpg
Cerf and Bob E. Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush
Cerf and Bulgarian President Parvanov being awarded the St. Cyril and Methodius in the Coat of Arms Order CerfParvanov.jpg
Cerf and Bulgarian President Parvanov being awarded the St. Cyril and Methodius in the Coat of Arms Order

Cerf has received a number of honorary degrees, including doctorates, from the University of the Balearic Islands, ETHZ in Zurich, Switzerland, Capitol College, Gettysburg College, Yale University, George Mason University, Marymount University, Bethany College (Kansas), University of Pisa, University of Rovira and Virgili (Tarragona, Spain), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Luleå University of Technology (Sweden), University of Twente (Netherlands), Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Tsinghua University (Beijing), Brooklyn Polytechnic, UPCT (University of Cartagena, Spain), Zaragoza University (Spain), University of Reading (United Kingdom), Royal Roads University (Canada), MGIMO (Moscow State University of International Relations), Buenos Aires Institute of Technology (Argentina), Polytechnic University of Madrid, Keio University (Japan), University of South Australia (Australia), University of St Andrews (Scotland), University of Pittsburgh and [54] Gallaudet University (United States). Other awards include:

See also

Partial bibliography

Cerf at 2007 Los Angeles ICANN meeting VintCerfJI3.jpg
Cerf at 2007 Los Angeles ICANN meeting
Vint Cerf, before his talk in memory of Dr. John Niparko at the 2017 MidWinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology in Baltimore Vint Cerf ARO2017.jpg
Vint Cerf, before his talk in memory of Dr. John Niparko at the 2017 MidWinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology in Baltimore


  • Zero Text Length EOF Message ( RFC   13, August 1969)
  • IMP-IMP and HOST-HOST Control Links ( RFC   18, September 1969)
  • ASCII format for network interchange ( RFC   20, October 1969)
  • Host-host control message formats ( RFC   22, October 1969)
  • Data transfer protocols ( RFC   163, May 1971)
  • PARRY encounters the DOCTOR ( RFC   439, January 1973)
  • 'Twas the night before start-up ( RFC   968, December 1985)
  • Report of the second Ad Hoc Network Management Review Group, RFC   1109, August 1989
  • Internet Activities Board, RFC   1120, September 1989
  • Thoughts on the National Research and Education Network, RFC   1167, July 1990
  • Networks, Scientific American Special Issue on Communications, Computers, and Networks, September 1991
  • Guidelines for Internet Measurement Activities, October 1991
  • A VIEW FROM THE 21ST CENTURY, RFC   1607, April 1, 1994
  • An Agreement between the Internet Society and Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the Matter of ONC RPC and XDR Protocols, RFC   1790, April 1995
  • I REMEMBER IANA, RFC   2468, October 17, 1998
  • Memo from the Consortium for Slow Commotion Research (CSCR, RFC   1217, April 1, 1999
  • The Internet is for Everyone, RFC   3271, April 2002


  • Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn, A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication (IEEE Transactions on Communications, May 1974)
  • Vinton Cerf, Y. Dalal, C. Sunshine, Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program ( RFC   675, December 1974)
  • Vinton Cerf, Jon Postel, Mail transition plan ( RFC   771, September 1980)
  • Vinton Cerf, K.L. Mills Explaining the role of GOSIP, RFC   1169, August 1990
  • Clark, Chapin, Cerf, Braden, Hobby, Towards the Future Internet Architecture, RFC   1287, December 1991
  • Vinton Cerf et al., A Strategic Plan for Deploying an Internet X.500 Directory Service, RFC   1430, February 1993
  • Vinton Cerf & Bob Kahn, Al Gore and the Internet, 2000-09-28 [74]
  • Vinton Cerf et al., Internet Radio Communication System July 9, 2002, U.S. Patent 6,418,138
  • Vinton Cerf et al., System for Distributed Task Execution June 3, 2003, U.S. Patent 6,574,628
  • Vinton Cerf et al., Delay-Tolerant Networking Architecture (Informational Status), RFC   4838, April 2007

Cerf writes under the column name "CERF'S UP", and Cerf's car has a vanity plate (registration) "CERFSUP". [75]

Related Research Articles

History of the Internet history of the Internet, a global system of interconnected computer networks

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

The Internet protocol suite is the conceptual model and set of communications protocols used in the Internet and similar computer networks. It is commonly known as TCP/IP because the foundational protocols in the suite are the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP). It is occasionally known as the Department of Defense (DoD) model because the development of the networking method was funded by the United States Department of Defense through DARPA.

Steve Crocker Internet pioneer

Stephen D. Crocker is the inventor of the Request for Comments series, authoring the very first RFC and many more. He attended Van Nuys High School, as did Vint Cerf and Jon Postel. Crocker received his bachelor's degree (1968) and PhD (1977) from the University of California, Los Angeles. Crocker was appointed as chair of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN in 2011.

The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is one of the main protocols of the Internet protocol suite. It originated in the initial network implementation in which it complemented the Internet Protocol (IP). Therefore, the entire suite is commonly referred to as TCP/IP. TCP provides reliable, ordered, and error-checked delivery of a stream of octets (bytes) between applications running on hosts communicating via an IP network. Major internet applications such as the World Wide Web, email, remote administration, and file transfer rely on TCP. Applications that do not require reliable data stream service may use the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), which provides a connectionless datagram service that emphasizes reduced latency over reliability.

Internet Assigned Numbers Authority department of ICANN, a nonprofit private American corporation

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is a function of ICANN, a nonprofit private American corporation that oversees global IP address allocation, autonomous system number allocation, root zone management in the Domain Name System (DNS), media types, and other Internet Protocol-related symbols and Internet numbers.

The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) is "a committee of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and an advisory body of the Internet Society (ISOC). Its responsibilities include architectural oversight of IETF activities, Internet Standards Process oversight and appeal, and the appointment of the Request for Comments (RFC) Editor. The IAB is also responsible for the management of the IETF protocol parameter registries."

ARPANET Early packet switching network that was the first to implement the protocol suite TCP/IP

The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was an early packet-switching network and the first network to implement the TCP/IP protocol suite. Both technologies became the technical foundation of the Internet. The ARPANET was initially funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the United States Department of Defense.

Van Jacobson computer scientist and primary contributor to the TCP/IP protocol

Van Jacobson is an American computer scientist, renowned for his work on TCP/IP network performance and scaling. He is one of the primary contributors to the TCP/IP protocol stack—the technological foundation of today’s Internet. Since 2013, Jacobson is an adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) working on Named Data Networking.

Louis Pouzin French computer scientist

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An Internet Experiment Note (IEN) is a sequentially numbered document in a series of technical publications issued by the participants of the early development work groups that created the precursors of the modern Internet.

Judith "Judy" L. Estrin is an Internet pioneer, entrepreneur, business executive, and author in the United States. Estrin worked with Vinton Cerf on the Transmission Control Protocol project at Stanford University in the 1970s. Estrin is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded eight technology companies. She was the chief technology officer of Cisco Systems from 1998 to 2000. She is currently CEO of JLABS, LLC, a privately held company focused on furthering innovation in business, government, and nonprofit organizations.

In computer networking, a port is an endpoint of communication. Physical as well as wireless connections are terminated at ports of hardware devices. At the software level, within an operating system, a port is a logical construct that identifies a specific process or a type of network service. Ports are identified for each protocol and address combination by 16-bit unsigned numbers, commonly known as the port number. Inbound packets are received, and the port number in the header is used to decide which application is to be passed the packets.

Informally established in the early 1990s, the Federal Networking Council (FNC) was later chartered by the US National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Computing, Information and Communications (CCIC) to continue to act as a forum for networking collaborations among US federal agencies to meet their research, education, and operational mission goals and to bridge the gap between the advanced networking technologies being developed by research FNC agencies and the ultimate acquisition of mature version of these technologies from the commercial sector. The FNC consisted of a group made up of representatives from the United States Department of Defense (DoD), the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among others.

SafeNet company

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A Request for Comments (RFC), in the context of Internet governance, is a type of publication from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Internet Society (ISOC), usually describing methods, behaviors, research, or innovations applicable to the working of the Internet and Internet-connected systems.

Karl Auerbach California attorney/internet protocol engineer

Karl Auerbach is a California attorney and internet protocol engineer who made many significant contributions to the development of the Internet, Internet governance and the commercialization of many internet technologies. Mr. Auerbach is also known for suing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—of which he was an elected board member—for refusing to share corporate records in 2002. ICANN controls the assignment of domain names and IP addresses.


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  4. Gore Deserves Internet Credit, Some Say, a March 1999 Washington Post article
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  7. (see Interview with Vinton Cerf Archived June 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine , from a January 2006 article in Government Computer News), Cerf is willing to call himself one of the internet fathers, citing Bob Kahn and Leonard Kleinrock in particular as being others with whom he should share that title.
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Further reading

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Tadahiro Sekimoto
IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal
with Bob Kahn
Succeeded by
Richard Blahut