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The Fathers of the Internet

The Four Main Creators of the Internet: Vinton Cerf (Connecticut, 1943), Robert “Bob” Kahn (New York, 1938), Larry Roberts (1937, Connecticut) and Sir Tim Berners-Lee (London, 1955)

The Four Main Creators of the Internet

In the article The History of the Internet As Told by All Its Creators in a Single Book, published on our blog, we cited some of the many names who have made what we now know as the Internet possible. Likewise, a good summary of the origins of the web and its creators can be found on the Internet Hall of Fame website. Here we focus on the four principal contributors.

Vinton Cerf (Connecticut, 1943)

Considered to be the founding father of the Internet. Co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocols.

Imagen: Veni Markovski (Wikipedia)
Image: Veni Markovski (Wikipedia)

Cerf has a degree in Mathematics from Stanford and a Computer Science PhD from UCLA. Together with Robert E. Khan, he designed the architecture of the Internet and the TCP/IP protocols which made it possible (1972).

Cerf was programme manager for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Pentagon) and has been vice-president at Google since 2005. He is responsible for identifying new technologies which assist in the development of web-based products and services. He has also worked on the development of the Interplanetary Internet for several years, a project which develops technology to take data communication into space before 2020.

In 1997, the incumbent American president Bill Clinton presented Cerf and Khan with the National Medal of Technology for founding and developing the Internet. In 2004 his work was also recognised with the so-called “Nobel Prize of Computer Science,” the Alan M. Turing Award.

Cerf was one of the founders of the Internet Society and its first president.

Robert “Bob” Kahn (New York, 1938)

Co-inventor of the TCP/IP protocols and Internet program manager at DARPA

Imagen: Veni Markovski (Wikipedia)
Image: Veni Markovski (Wikipedia)

Kahn has a master’s degree and a doctorate in Electronic Engineering and is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As well as inventing the TCP/IP protocols with Vint Cerf, he was responsible for implementing the Internet programme at DARPA (United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

After three years at DARPA, Kahn left the organisation in 1986 to found the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI). Since 2006, he has been its chairman, CEO and president.

In 1997, along with Cerf, he received the National Medal of Technology and also shared the Turing Award in 2004. In 1993, Kahn received the SIGCOMM Award for his visionary technical contributions and leadership in the development of information systems technology.

Larry Roberts (1937, Connecticut)

Father of ARPAnet, the predecessor of the Internet


With a master’s degree and a doctorate in Electronic Engineering from MIT, Roberts worked on the creation of ARPAnet, the first packet switching network, at DARPA, along with Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn. He later founded Telenet, the first data operator to use this technology. There he developed the X25 protocol on which the European network EUNet was based.

Lawrence G. Roberts has held top positions at many companies, including: president and CEO at DHL; president and CEO at NetExpress; and president at ATM Systems. He is currently the president of Packetcom, Inc., a company which designs advanced technology for the Internet.

Among the many awards he has received are the LM Ericsson Prize for his research into data communication, the SIGCOMM and the Prince of Asturias Award for Scientific and Technical Research, which he received jointly with Bob Kahn, Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee (London, 1955)

The father of the Web and founder and chairman of the World Wide Web Foundation

Imagen: webfoundation.
Image: webfoundation.

Berners-Lee graduated from Queen’s College, Oxford in 1976 with a degree in Physics. He invented the Web in 1989 while working as a software engineer at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. He noticed that the other scientists working in the particles laboratory needed an efficient means of sharing the information they were generating from other countries.

Specifically, he was the first to establish a communication between a client and a server using the HTTP protocol.

With his group of co-workers, Berners-Lee created HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and the system for locating objects on the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) web.

In 1994 he founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), with its headquarters at MIT. The aim was to supervise and standardise the development of the technologies on which the web is based and which enable the Internet to function.

This very week sees the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web.

Awards and Distinctions

Berners-Lee is a member of the Royal Society in London and the British Computer Society. He has been awarded the Prince of Asturias Award and the Millennium Technology Prize. He is an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) and in 2004 Queen Elizabeth II invested him with a KBE (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire), the second highest rank in the British honours system. He has received honorary doctorates from several universities. These are just a few of the awards and distinctions with which his work has been recognised.