Blog Posts for 2017
The tech community is mourning the loss of a pioneer who, despite leaving his fingerprints everywhere, is rarely mentioned in the history books.
Robert Taylor died last month at his home in Woodside, California, last month at age 85 due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease.
Taylor’s impact dates back to 1961, when, as a young project manager at NASA, he decided to direct funding towards a project that spawned the computer mouse. Five years later, he convinced his supervisor at what is now DARPA to invest $500,000 of taxpayer dollars to build Arpanet, or the precursor to the modern internet.
While at Xerox PARC in the 1970s and early 1980s, Taylor led a lab team that developed or perfected several innovations associated with modern computing, including icons, pop-up menus, overlapping windows and bitmap displays.
Towards the end of his career, Taylor created and ran the Digital Equipment Systems Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, which helped create AltaVista, one of the early modern search engines.
In an obituary published by Wired, Leslie Berlin referenced the...
David Clark is known as one of the original architects of the Internet. Someday he may also be remembered for developing the Internet of the future.
He’s already taken some key first steps, overseeing a National Science Foundation-funded project to get researchers to think more broadly into the future, and is in the final stages of a book summarizing his findings and the ideas that have been floated for an alternative Internet architecture.
The idea behind the project, he said, was to get “at least some parts of the research community” to look beyond the incremental and instead “have the courage to ask the more fundamental questions, like, if you didn’t have to worry about migration, what do you think the Internet 15 years from now might look like.”
“It takes a long time to make changes, so someone has to think ahead,” Clark said.
So what might an Internet of the future look like? One goal, obviously, he said, would be to make it safer.
Another change might be addressing. Currently, the way the Internet works is through the shipment of data packets from machine to machine, he says. One alternative is to make it more about connecting to a service rather than a machine.
“There are advantages and disadvantages,” he said. “As a research question, it’s wonderful.”
One of the most extreme ideas from the research community, he said, would be to have smarter routers that would not only...
Vint Cerf has a few titles under his belt. Currently Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, Cerf is also considered “father of the Internet.”
Along with Bob Kahn, Cerf helped develop Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP.
The suite of communications protocols used to connect network devices, TCP/IP implements layers of protocol stacks, with each layer providing clearly-defined network services to the upper layer.
As one of the developers of the Internet’s basic communication language, Cerf was intimately involved in several of the early decisions that impacted the Internet’s growth rate.
Speaking recently with Forbes’ Ewan Spence at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Cerf acknowledged that the decision to not pursue a patent for Internet protocols was a conscious one in an effort to lower the barriers for the now 3.5 billion people worldwide who do not have reliable access.
“We didn’t want any computer companies to have an excuse to reject the use of the Internet protocols on the grounds that they had their own proprietary systems,” he said.
“We didn’t want them to have any excuse to not implement the TCP/IP protocols.”
His latest ...
During her 2013 induction into the Internet Hall of Fame, Anne-Marie Lowinder of Sweden recalled her historic work in improving Internet security. Lowinder has dedicated her career to improving security to Domain Name Systems and was instrumental in jumpstarting the implementation of the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC).
In this exclusive video, Lowinder discusses not only DNS security, but the challenges of maintaining workable communication while improving security on these sites, what this means for the future of the Internet, and what it was like to be a woman working on the Internet during the technology’s early days.
As an early pioneer in Internet security, Stephen Kent says, he and others never envisioned the Internet would become such a key piece of infrastructure.
“The range of things we were worried about was relatively small,” he said. “We were concerned about nation states intercepting communications and possibly acting as a man in the middle. So our goal was to figure out how to design standards that would alleviate those concerns. That was in the good old days, when email was a text message. You didn’t even have attachments that could reach out and bite you. It was before the World Wide Web.”
Now of course, the cybersecurity challenges are “absolutely enormous,” he says, and the Internet of Things is downright scary.
Moving forward, he says, one of the great challenges is figuring out what really is and isn’t a threat.
For instance, he says, when ecommerce first took off, a lot of effort went into developing cryptographic security to protect credit card information as it traveled from a consumer’s computer to a merchant. But most big security breaches today involve hackers getting credit card information after it is stored in merchants’ computers.
“The catch is, if I am sitting at home using the Internet, when I send my credit card information to Amazon, it’s not in a lot of danger of getting intercepted. It’s in the greatest danger once it gets there.
“This is an example of where we developed a solution to the concerns we could...