Here’s a clip from a TV news program in 1981, about the possibility that news might someday come to our homes via this new development called the Internet. In that year, of course, the anchorperson could have had no idea how profound the impact of the Internet would actually be, affecting her own profession almost as much as that of the newspaper seller seen in the final shot.
Send high-speed data, including video signals, over telephone wires? Impossible! That’s what everyone thought for decades, until Internet Hall of Famer Dr. John Cioffi actually did it, by designing the Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) system. His big challenges were two-fold. The technological one was to come up with a design that could adapt to the more than one billion phone lines around the world; and the other, just as significant, was to come up with partners, including his students at Stanford who provided the workforce, and an early telecom that provided the project’s funding.
DSL, the No. 1 fixed-line technique for Internet communication, is used by more than half a billion people each day – and the number is growing. Here’s what Dr. Cioffi had to say about his achievement, after the Internet Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Hong Kong earlier this year.
Just as surely as the seasons change, our Internet Hall of Fame inductees can be counted on to pique the interest of the worldwide news media: Their accomplishments and ongoing work to advance a free and open Internet never fail to generate buzz. Here’s a sampling of items that ran as summer turned to fall.
Though many of us wilted in August’s heat and humidity, our august Internet Hall of Famers managed to stay mighty cool the in news media worldwide. Here are just a few examples:
China Central TV began airing a 10-episode documentary on the development of the Internet. It features, of course, Vint Cerf, Robert E. Kahn, Tim Berners-Lee, and other Internet luminaries, all of whom are enshrined in the pantheon of the Internet Hall of Fame.
Erik Huizer’s passion for engineering started early. “As a child, I was taking apart appliances in my mother’s kitchen,” he says. “I always wanted to see how things were made.”
That passion never left him. In 1983, while earning his PhD in solid-state physics, he needed to automate his data. So, he recalled recently, he bought two IBM PCs that in size, “resembled a dog house” and ran “the kind of floppy disks that were literally floppy.” He needed the two machines to communicate with each other, so he studied programming and implemented the Internet Protocol on both of them.
Today, Huizer is still tinkering: He is the Chief Technology Officer for SURFnet, a nonprofit that develops and maintains the national research and education network in the Netherlands. SURFnet is a member of GEANT (the pan-European research and education network) and the Trans-European Research and Networking Association (TERENA); and collaborates with other international partners such as CERnet in China and Internet 2 in the U.S. “While SURFnet is aimed at the Netherlands, it really knows no borders,” Huizer says. “Like Internet 2, it tries to be the most advanced network in the world. It’s geared to innovation and change, and we try to bring the latest tools to our users.” Huizer first began working for SURFnet in 1988, and he’s grateful for the...