Father Of Internet Technology Essay, Research Paper
Evaluation of Craig Brockman’s Assignment by Eric Becker (05/22 05:40 PM)
Craig H. Brockman
Instructor: Eric Becker
9 May 2000
Dr. Leonard Kleinrock:
“Father of Internet Technology”
Most every work of human progress has carried within it the signature of one or more individuals who saw beyond the horizon, challenged convention and then, in ways large and small, forever changed our world. Some of these signatures, like Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone and Thomas Edison, whose many patents include both the electric light bulb, the microphone and record player, are easily identifiable. But what about a work of human progress so complex and far-reaching that its very origins might seem untraceable? Indeed, what about the Internet? [leave a space between paragraphs to make the break more distinguished]
There are, of course, many individuals who have contributed to the rise and globalization of the Internet — a “network of networks,” connecting all parts of the world electronically Yet one name stands out: Dr. Leonard Kleinrock, known to many as “The Father of Internet Technology.” It was his theory of “packet-switching” that led the United States government and a team of nearly 40 researchers to develop what would eventually be the worldwide communications system that is today so much a part of our lives.[excellent introduction, excellent thesis]
The Internet, what exactly is it, and where did it come from?
Definitions of the Internet are varied and can be truly complicated for the common layman to understand. In its most simple form, the Internet is defined in the publication “The Internet”, as “the Internet is the biggest computer system in the world. It is an enormous network of networks that spans the globe continuously evolving and redefining itself “(Cooper 8).
However, there is an official definition of the Internet by the United States government. The governing body of the Internet is called “The Federal Networking Council (FNC)”. And on October 24, 1995 the FNC defined the Internet as a “global information system that -
(i) is logically linked together by a globally unique address space based on the Internet Protocol (IP) or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons;
(ii) is able to support communications using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite or its subsequent extensions/follow-ons, and/or other IP-compatible protocols; and
(iii) provides, uses or makes accessible, either publicly or privately, high level services layered on the communications and related infrastructure described herein.” (FNC)
The start of the Internet
Development of the Advanced Research Projects Agency network (ARPAnet) started in the 1950’s during the Eisenhower administration. ARPAnet was the answer to the Soviet Unions launching of “Sputnik”. The United States military needed a way to communicate around the military network safely and securely. “They (Department of Defense) came up with a system which sent information broken down into “packets” of data (Cooper 12).
Since the ARPAnet was a network, the question of networking would surely arise. As pointed out in a compilation edited by Brian Cooper, network is defined as “[...] a pair of computers linked together by cable so that they can share information, hardware (such as printers), and programs” (12).
Who is Dr. Kleinrock?
Leonard Kleinrock had a very humble beginning. Born June 13, 1934 in the Borough of Manhattan in New York City. “At the age of six, Leonard Kleinrock was reading a Superman comic book at his family’s apartment in Manhattan, when, in the centerfold, he found plans for building a crystal radio. To do so, he needed his father’s used razor blade, a piece of pencil lead, an empty toilet paper roll, and some wire. [...] He needed an earphone, which he promptly appropriated from a public telephone booth. The one remaining part required was something called a “variable capacitor”. For this, young Leonard convinced his mother to take him on the subway down to Canal Street, the center for radio electronics. In one of the stores, he asked the clerk for a variable capacitor. After some debate about the size, which forced the six-year old to confess his inexperience, the clerk sold him just what he needed. [...] When “free” music came through the earphones-without batteries, without power-an engineer was born” (Segaller 32).
The education of Dr. Kleinrock was also incredible. One would look from the outside and would almost have to suggest that Dr. Kleinrock is a lifetime student. Dr. Kleinrock’s technical education began in Bronx High School of Science. “After Bronx Science, Kleinrock found he could not afford to attend even the tuition-free City College of New York, so he enrolled in their evening session program while working full time as an electronics technician and engineer. Five -and-a-half years later, he graduated and won a full graduate fellowship to attend MIT in the Electrical Engineering Department (Segaller 32). At MIT Leonard Kleinrock would earn his Masters in Electrical Engineering in 1959, and also at MIT he would earn his PH.D in Electrical Engineering in 1963. From there Dr. Kleinrock went on to teach at the University of California, Los Angeles, Computer Science Department. This is where he still teaches to this day.
Packet Switching Theory
Bob Taylor[,] who was one of the original team members in the ARPAnet project best defined packet switching during his interview with author Stephen Segaller. “Packet switching contrasts with normal switching technology, which is called line switching, where in order to move from one destination to another you actually unplug and plug in. But with packet switching you encode the message that you’re sending with addresses for the destination. And with other codes that enable the destination to send back to the sender information that says, “I got it.” And each of those pieces will have this stuff at the beginning and this stuff at he end with a little piece in the middle. So it all comes to you, and your computer then knows what order to put these pieces back together in. The fifth piece may come to you before the first piece does. But your computer doesn’t care because it will sort them out for you. That’s packet switching in a nutshell.” (Segaller 69)
It was Dr. Kleinrock who developed the “packet switching theory. While at MIT, Kleinrock had decided to do his thesis for his PH.D on the communications networks. “A short quotation from that report: “The nets considered consist of nodes that receive, sort, store, and transmit messages entering and leaving by the way of links” (Segaller 33). This was the theory as described in numerous publications as “packet switching”. This theory eventually was the primary ingredient for computers to “talk” to other computers. Without this incredible brainstorm, we would be left in the dark, unable to have one computer talk to another computer through a network. Stephen Segaller writes from his interview with Dr. Kleinrock on the beginnings of packet switching: “As Kleinrock himself recalls: “Well, it all began when I started as a graduate student at MIT. I reached a point where I wanted to do a Ph.D. I was made aware of a problem that the military was having in what we now call data networking-sending messages around in a reliable way, in a hostile environment, efficiently. [...]” (33). Segaller further writes: “he (Dr. Kleinrock) laid the foundation for packet switching, the key invention for the technology of today’s Internet” (33).
But it was in the late 1960’s where Dr. Kleinrock’s theory would be put to the test.
In 1966 a team was finally formed to work with the United States government’s ARPAnet. Dr. Kleinrock had many peers who were brought into the Pentagon to work on this important project. By all accounts by his peers, Dr. Kleinrock was to be an important ingredient to this team. Without his “packet switching” theory and expertise, the ARPAnet project would be sure to fail.
After three years of progress and sometimes disappointments, ARPAnet finally communicated. “This finally occurred in early October (1969) when Kleinrock and one of his programmers proceeded to “logon” to the SRI Host from the UCLA Host. The procedure was to type in “log” and the system at SRI was setup to be clever enough to fill out the rest of the command, namely to add “in” thus creating the word “login”. A telephone headset was mounted on the programmers at both ends so they could communicate by voice as the message was transmitted. At the UCLA end, they typed in the “l” and asked SRI if they received it; “got the l” came the voice reply. UCLA typed in the “o”, asked if they got it, and received “got the o”. UCLA then typed in the “g” and the darned system CRASHED! Quite a beginning. On the second attempt, it worked fine!” (UCLA). And the Internet was born.
“In the early 1980’s the American military split away from ARPAnet, leaving what became known as the Internet (Cooper 12). ARPAnet was the actual beginning of the “World Wide Web” and the Internet. Due to it’s now capitalist commercial scheme of the Internet, it is ironic that the development and unforeseen improvement of the world-wide economy came as a response from the United States government to the Soviet Unions because of the launching of a rocket that carried a dog into space.
The Internet has become a common place in our society. It is as common as the telephone or the automobile.
The simple ease of communicating with strangers across the world in a matter of seconds, that once took weeks by regular mail. Even shopping on the Internet from the comfort of our own homes is an everyday occurrence. These are things that we shouldn’t take for granted, and these are things that we can now thank the inventors, personally through another invention of theirs, “Electronic Mail” (e-mail).
Dr. Kleinrock: The Father of Internet Technology
Simply put, without the most important contribution of “packet switching” by Dr. Kleinrock, the Internet would more than likely not exist today. Over the years there has been great advances in computer technology. This has been mostly accomplished by the partnership of other engineers throughout the world communicating with one another through the use of Internet. This type of communication would not have come without the ingenious theory of Dr. Kleinrock’s theory. So one must ask oneself, “If not for the immediate communication that the Internet gives us, would we (the world) be this technically advanced without the Internet?” In literature that there is on the Internet, there is always a mention of Dr. Kleinrock. Our children and our children’s children will know of nothing less than the luxury of having the Internet available to them at anytime of day or night.
The simple ease of communicating with strangers across the world in a matter of seconds, that once took weeks by regular mail. These are things that we shouldn’t take for granted, and these are things that we can now thank the inventors, personally. I was able to contact Dr. Kleinrock. I wanted to inform him that I was doing a research thesis on his invention, using the same invention to relay this information. I would say this would be the equivalent of calling Mr. Bell on the phone, or even driving my car to Mr. Ford, and thanking them for their wonderful gifts to mankind. Dr. Kleinrock is one of many men that put in place this fabulous tool. One thing we must remember, as with all other tools of man, we should not abuse it or take it for granted.
It was an honor for me to do this thesis and actually communicate with the “Father of the Internet Technology”.
Cooper, Brian, ed. The Internet. New York. 1996: 8-12.
Kleinrock, Leonard. Inventor of the Internet Technology. http://www.lk.cs.ucla.edu.
Segaller, Stephen. Nerds 2.0.1 A Brief History of the Internet. New York: TV Books,
United States. Federal Networking Council. FNC Resolution: Definition of “Internet”.
October 24, 1995. Last accessed April 20, 2000.
University of California, Los Angeles. The Birth of the Internet. August 27, 1996. Last accessed April 27, 2000.