Internet Pioneer Jon Postel Wins ITU Silver Medal

July 22, 1998

GENEVA, Switzerland -- Dr Jon Postel received today the ITU silver medal for his central role in the success story of the Internet. The medal was awarded on behalf of ITU Secretary-General, Dr Pekka Tarjanne, in recognition of Dr Postel's outstanding contribution to the development of the Global Information Infrastructure, through his management of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

In the world of Internet governance, few organizations play as critical a role as the IANA. Unique numbers and unique names of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) must be assigned and managed in an orderly fashion to enable the functioning of the Internet. That has been IANA's task from the very beginning of the Internet. IANA has been managing the root of the DNS to promote stability and robustness and has ensured that every Internet computer had a unique IP number. To this end, the IANA has been allocating blocks of numerical addresses to regional IP registries throughout the world which in turn issue them to Internet service providers and users. The IANA also assigns and maintains a registry of the values used for several technical parameters including protocol numbers, port numbers, and others which must also be unique for the Internet to work. The fact that the on-going number assignments has continued to work effectively despite the phenomenal growth of the Internet which now boasts of 24.7 million hosts, is a credit to the architects of the system and to IANA which administers it.

Jon Postel is a legendary figure in the world of Internet. Together with Vint Cerf, Steve Crocker and a handful of other experts, Postel, currently a researcher at the University of Southern California's (USC) Information Sciences Institute (ISI), played a seminal role in the development of the Internet.

For years, Postel has quietly made sure every Internet protocol has a unique identifier, not a glamorous job though an indispensable one, and accomplished his duties remarkably well.

Postel said that the origins of the IANA may be traced back to the beginnings of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANet) in 1969, when he first began keeping a list of network protocol numbers on a scrap of notebook paper.

At the age of just 25, Postel got involved with the Network Management Center, which conducted performance tests and analysis on the earliest nodes of ARPANet. Since then, Postel has taken on more duties including the development of many Internet protocols such as the Domain Name System, File Transfer, Telnet, and the basic Internet Protocol (IP) itself, and, for the past quarter of a century, the role of editor of the Request for Comments (RFC) acting as the final check before publishing any IETF standards. His long-standing involvement and dedication has made him one of the most venerated members of the Internet elite. In fact, "Where Wizards Stay Up Late" -- a book on the origins of the Internet -- makes reference to him at least 17 times.

Jon Postel Biography

Jon Postel is the Director of ISI's Computer Networks Division. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Engineering, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from UCLA, in 1966, 1968, and 1974 respectively. At UCLA he was involved in the beginnings of the ARPANet and the development of the Network Measurement Center. He has worked in the areas of computer communication protocols, especially at the operating system level and the application level. Jon has played a key role in the development of many Internet protocols, including the Domain Name System, File Transfer, and Telnet. He authored the specifications for the Internet Protocol (IP), and the Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP); and he was the document editor for many other Internet protocol specifications. His current interests include multi- machine internetwork applications, multimedia conferencing and electronic mail, very large networks, and very high speed communications.

Contact: Francine Lambert,
Head, Press and Public Information
International Telecommunication Union
Tel: +41 22 730 5969/+41 79 217 3506
Fax: +41 22 730 5939

University of Southern California

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