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UCL celebrates Internet pioneers

Publication date: Mar 14, 2006 3:48:54 PM

UCL will tomorrow celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first international link to the ARPANET: the precursor to the Internet, by granting Honorary Fellowships to Dr Robert E. Kahn and Dr Vinton G. Cerf, who conceived of the original Internet Protocol which made the Internet possible. Media are invited to a press conference to be given by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), 66 Portland Place, on Tuesday 18th November from 10.30-11.30am.

This award is one of a number of events during the week-long celebration of that historic milestone in the emergence of the global Internet, in which Dr Kahn, Dr Cerf and other Internet pioneers will participate.
The lead organisers of these events are University College London and the Internet Society of England (ISOC-England).

Professor Peter Kirstein of UCL first linked the US with UCL in 1973 by connecting to the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet. He went on to provide the UK’s principal Internet link between the UK and the US throughout the 1980s. Professor Kirstein said: “During the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, research departments in universities were making huge technological strides forward that contributed greatly to the birth of the Internet. UCL in particular, had a prominent role and made the first UK connection to the ARPANET, making the enterprise international for the first time.

“I have worked with Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf since the 1970s on a number of Internet projects. Their joint development of TCP/IP [Internet protocol] has led to a communication network that links people regardless of geographical location. That has made a lasting impact on our education, quality of life and economy. This ceremony and the events that will take place throughout the week mark the discovery of the Internet and signal the start of a new era of Internet developments.”

Dr Cerf said: "I have known and worked with Peter Kirstein for over 35 years. It is a special honour to become a member of the UCL family through the receipt of this Fellowship. UCL has had a central role in the evolution of the Internet and it has been a privilege to maintain a collegial relationship with the UCL team as it explores new territory in the endless Internet space."

Dr Kahn said: "I am greatly honoured and appreciative of the recognition shown by UCL with this Fellowship and to know that it will cement the ties that have connected us from the earliest days of computer networking. Peter Kirstein has been a good friend and colleague all during that period, and the students and faculty at UCL with whom we have worked can take great pride in their important contributions. History will likely show this still to be an early period in the evolution of the Internet and UCL will surely continue to play a central role in its continuing evolution."

The inauguration ceremony of the Honorary Fellows will be held at UCL on 18th November from 17.00. A panel entitled “The Internet – Critical Infrastructure, Everyone & Everywhere” will be held at UCL on November 19th from 14.00.