Jan Gruntorad


Jan Gruntorad

Jan Gruntorad was an early champion of international networking for research and development (R&D) in Czechoslovakia, initiating the country’s connection to the European Academic and Research Network (EARN) in the first half of 1990 and, shortly after, establishing CESNET, the Czech Education and Scientific Network. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he worked on introducing and improving Internet services for research and development in Central and Eastern Europe and in some former Soviet states. He is often referred to as the “father of the Czech Internet.” 

When the Velvet Revolution restored democracy in Czechoslovakia in November 1989, Gruntorad was leading the Data Communication and Computer Networking department of the University Regional Computing Centre at Czech Technical University in Prague. Eager to expand connections beyond local borders, Gruntorad became the first national director of EARN in 1990, launching the organization’s presence and setting up the network’s infrastructure throughout his native country. 

In 1991, he began leading a team that connected the mainframe computer at the Czech Technical University in Prague to the Internet, organizing the official opening of Internet services in Czechoslovakia on 13 February 1992. Also in 1992, Gruntorad was responsible for establishing a countrywide network, CESNET, that distributed Internet connectivity to academic and research sites all over the country. He presided over the decision to base CESNET, which became operational in 1993, on the newer IP technology, easing the network’s further expansion and stability as use increased. 

Gruntorad helped establish the organization in charge of peering in the Czech Republic, NIX.CZ, serving six years as the first chairman of its executive committee. NIX.CZ is the largest Neutral Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in the Czech Republic and is one of the ten biggest IXPs in Europe. He also initiated the creation of the CZ.NIC association that is responsible for the administration and operation of the .cz top level domain.

In addition to Czech Republic, Europe and other former Soviet republics benefited from Gruntorad’s leadership and expertise. He significantly contributed to the founding of the Central and Eastern European Networking Association, known as CEENet, serving as chair from 1998 to 2003, introducing and improving Internet services in R&D environments. He served as a consultant for NATO in the Caucasus and was responsible for significant upgrade and expansion of the Internet protocol network for the R&D community in Azerbaijan.


Watch an interview on his contribution