During Temple visit, Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf shuns sole credit
Vinton Cerf doesn’t consider himself the
of the Internet” and is quick to point it out when asked.
“First of all, I interpret that as a misnomer, because there were thousands of people involved in the process” of creating the Internet, Cerf told several hundred students and faculty in Walk Auditorium on Nov. 15.
Cerf, whose pioneering work in computers has led him to be
called a “Father of the Internet,” was visiting campus
as part of the Temple University Technology Le aders Series.
After a 45-minute presentation on the origins, current state and future of the Internet, Cerf, who serves as senior vice president for technology strategy at MCI, was asked how he feels about his Internet-creator status.
“If you think the Internet could happen because one or two or three people were the only ones that made it happen, let me tell you, it’s not that way,” he
said. “You know the old story about success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan. It’s true.
“It’s absolutely true that the success of the Internet is a direct side effect of a number of people who decided to commit themselves, their career, their money
and their ideas to making it happen,” Cerf added. “The lucky part for me is having been around in the early stages of all this, doing something that so many other people decided that it would be a lot of fun and important to do.”
As a graduate student at the University of California–Los Angeles in the late 1960s, Cerf helped build ARPANET, a mini-Internet between four Western universities: UCL
A, Stanford, the University of California–Santa Barbara and the University of Utah. He is also credited with creating the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), which forms the basis of the entire Internet and allows the flow of i
nformation through the World Wide Web.
Cerf told the audience that the Internet has been especially important to researchers.
“If you’re a researcher, I don’t think you can do a good job without the Internet,” Cerf said. “It’s become an integral tool for collabor
ative work. I think if you talk to any serious scientist today and say, ‘If I took away your Internet, what would you do?’, the answer is always ‘a lot less effective research.’”
Cerf was invited to Temple by Peter Cook, a dean’s appointment in computer and information science, who created the Technology Leaders Series as a way of exposing his
students and the University to people who are at the forefront of computer and information technology.
Previously, the series has featured lectures by Steven Levy, the senior tech writer/columnist for Newsweek magazine, and Scott Collins and Tara Hernandez, two of the original pioneers of the Internet browser Netscape. For the spring 2005 lec
ture, Cook has lined up Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer.
— Preston M. Moretz