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  Cerf, Vinton
CANDIDATE DETAILS
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NameVinton Cerf
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, , United States
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Born June 23, 1943 (79 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedThomas Walker
Mar 29, 2007 11:30pm
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InfoVinton Gray Cerf (born June 23, 1943) is an North American computer scientist who is commonly referred to as one of the "founding fathers of the Internet" for his key technical and managerial role, together with Bob Kahn, in the creation of the Internet and the TCP/IP protocols which it uses.

He was also a co-founder (in 1992) of the Internet Society (ISOC), which is intended to both promote the views of ordinary users of the Internet, and also serve as an umbrella body for the technical groups developing the Internet (such as the Internet Engineering Task Force). He served as the first president of the Internet Society from 1992-1995, served on the board of trustees through the end of 2001, and served as chairman of the board from 1998 to 1999.

He has a hearing impairment, and serves on the board of Gallaudet University, the first school of higher learning for the deaf and hard-of-hearing; he received an award from the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He and his family currently reside in Virginia.

Cerf was born in New Haven, Connecticut. As a teenager, he attended Van Nuys High School. After expressing an early interest in computers, he attended Stanford University, taking summer jobs at a number of companies such as North American Aviation and Rocketdyne. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Stanford in 1965.

After graduation, he went to work for IBM, but soon decided that he wanted to learn more about computers. In 1967, he returned to school, enrolling in UCLA's computer science program, where he was a student under Gerald Estrin. Leonard Kleinrock was on his thesis committee and Cerf worked in Kleinrock's Network Measurement Center as a principal programmer while studying for his advanced degrees. He received Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in 1970 and 1972.

While at UCLA, he worked on the ARPANET, the earliest packet switched computer network. During this period (as well as later), he was the author of several RFCs. He continued working on computer networks when he became a professor at Stanford University in 1972.

Shortly thereafter, in 1973, Bob Kahn (whom Cerf already knew, since Kahn had been the principal architect of the ARPANET Interface Message Processor (IMP) project as its prime contractor, Bolt, Beranek and Newman) and Cerf started thinking about how to connect together several different packet switching networks, into what we now call an internetwork. Their 1974 paper, A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication is now recognized as the fundamental document in this (then-new) field.

Soon afterwards, in 1976, he was asked to move to the United States Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to run the research and development program in this area. During his tenure, from 1976 to 1982, he played a key role in leading the development of the TCP/IP protocols and the Internet. Rumor has it that the term "Surfing the net" originated from the first data sent over the internet by Vint Cerf during his time at the DOD, but this is just an urban myth. Jean Armour Polly popularized the term "surfing the net" in an essay and the founders of CERFNET originally intended it to be spelled SURFNET but that name was taken by a Dutch research company, so they called themselves the California Education and Research Foundation Network or CERFNET.

After that, as vice president of MCI Digital Information Services from 1982 to 1986, he led the engineering of MCI Mail, the first commercial email service to be connected to the Internet.

Cerf then rejoined Kahn at the latter's Corporation for National Research Initiatives in 1986, staying until 1994. While there, he worked on a number of projects, such as digital libraries and knowbots. He returned to MCI in 1994, as the Senior Vice President of Internet Architecture and Technology Strategy.

On September 8, 2005 Google Inc. announced that it hired Cerf as "Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist."

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