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Internet protocol developers given presidential medals

Antony Savvas

The developers of the TCP/IP protocols, used to transmit data traffic across the internet, are to be given the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civil award.
 
Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf are to be given their awards later this week at the White House. Kahn and Cerf were given the 2004 AM Turing Award earlier this year, which is considered the computing industry’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize.

Cerf and Kahn developed the transmission control protocol (TCP) in 1973 for the US military, while working for the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

The idea was to enclose packets of data in "datagrams", which would act like envelopes containing letters. Gateway computers would then read the delivery information contained in the datagrams, before delivering the contents to host computers to read the packet contents.

TCP made it easier for different networks to be joined together for communications purposes, and was eventually used to make the internet, a network of networks, a reality.

TCP was later refined and split into two parts to become TCP/IP, which is now the standard for all internet communications.

After leaving Darpa, Kahn became chief executive of the US Corporation for National Research Initiatives, which provides funding for research and development into national communication infrastructures.

Cerf is now at search giant Google, where he is working on next-generation applications. He also previously worked at telco WorldCom for a number of years.

Cerf is also chairman of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organisation that oversees the web’s domain name system.


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