A few weeks ago I had an interesting discussion with Bob Kahn. Along with Vint Cerf, Bob is recognized as one the key fathers of the Internet, for which they both received the 1997 National Medal of Technology and a number of other top prizes. The occasion was a board meeting of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), a not-for-profit organization that promotes research in the public interest which Bob founded in 1986 and continues to lead. Earlier this year, I joined CNRI’s Board of Directors.
We were talking about the continuing evolution of the Internet, something Bob is uniquely qualified to discuss. Beyond his role as co-inventor of its key protocols, Bob has played a leading role in shepherding the Internet from its modest beginnings over forty years ago to its well recognized position as the engine of the digital revolution.
What do we mean by the Internet? The most concrete answer is that the Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks based on the TCP/IP protocols co-developed by Cerf and Kahn. But, beyond the central role that TCP/IP has played, I believe that the success of the Internet is predicated on a few key architectural principles: open, simple and distributed.