Vinton Gray Cerf received the Imagining the Internet Center’s Areté Medallion September 30, 2016.
Vint Cerf is a co-designer of the revolutionary TCP/IP protocol suite and the architecture of the Internet, developed between 1973 and 1983 by he and co-author Bob Kahn and others in the Cerf-chaired International Network Working Group. In the decades that followed the operational launch of the Internet Jan. 1, 1983, an explosion of further innovation led to a better system for email, file-sharing via FTP, the World Wide Web, the commercialization of the Internet, WiFI/3G/4G/5G, millions of new online applications, billions of people living much of their lives online, trillions of communications – global and interstellar – and invention upon invention.
A dedicated humanist innovator, change agent and thought leader, Cerf is the first honoree to be awarded the Elon University Imagining the Internet Center’s Areté Medallion. The ancient Greek term areté is used to describe a person who has fulfilled his or her highest effectiveness with dignity, character and distinction, employing to the highest degree all of the abilities and potentialities available.
Cerf is honored for nearly 50 years of leadership in the ongoing innovation of world-changing communications networks. This Google vice president also has the very appropriate job title of Chief Internet Evangelist. It is a position he lives and breathes. His positive influence on the future of communications and the world has been a steady source of inspiration for Internet engineers and Internet policy leaders globally for decades, and it will be so in years to come. He was part of the team that made the first Internet connection in the 1960s. He is a co-inventor of the Internet Protocol suite – the code that brought interconnectivity to computing – and he is known as a “father of the Internet,” but that was just the start.
Cerf has lived a life of non-stop public service for decades, never resting on his laurels. He continues working for the positive evolution of the Internet, in both its engineering aspects and human aspects. He was founding president of the Internet Society from 1992 to 1995 and he helped form and served from 2000 to 2007 as chairman of the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – ICANN, the group in charge of “real estate” in cyberspace. As Wikipedians note, “Cerf is active in many organizations that are working to help the Internet deliver humanitarian value in our world today. He is supportive of innovative projects that are experimenting with new approaches to global problems, including the digital divide, the gender gap and the changing nature of jobs.”
Vint Cerf comes to mind first when the global community considers leaders of the past century who have done the most every day to further global good through communications. He is always on call to assist anyone anywhere who asks, traveling the world to teach, inspire and influence positive change. He has been a wonderfully generous contributor to the work of Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center and has been an inspiration to the hundreds of Elon students who have had the opportunity to interview him and document his work at Internet Governance Forums and other events.
More biographical details on Vint Cerf
Vint Cerf’s bachelor’s degree in math is from Stanford and his master’s and doctoral degrees are from the University of California-Los Angeles, where he worked as a graduate student on the Leonard Kleinrock team that networked the first computers via the ARPANet in October 1969. His work in the early years of the Internet’s development was as part of teams funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense to develop the ARPANet. As vice president of MCI Digital Information Services he led the move to encourage commercial email service via the Internet in the early 1980s. He worked with Bob Kahn at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives in the late ’80s and early 1990s, developing many projects incuding work on gigabit-speed networks. At that same time he was a founding leader of ICANN, the Internet Society, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board
Cerf is the recipient of dozens of honors and 25 honorary degrees. Highlights include the U.S. Medal of Technology, presented to him in 1997 by President Bill Clinton; the 1998 Marconi Prize; the 2004 Association of Computing Machinery Alan Turing Award – known as the Nobel Prize of computer science; the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented in 2005 by President George Bush; the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering; the Japan Prize; and his induction into the inaugural class of the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012.
Cerf is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Association for Computing Machinery, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the International Engineering Consortium, the Computer History Museum, the British Computer Society and the National Academy of Engineering. He has been a visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he has worked on the creation of the Interplanetary Internet since 1998. He is past president of ACM, chair of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, has completed a term as chair of the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology for the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, and was appointed to the National Science Board by President Barack Obama in 2012. He is a longtime leading participant in the United Nations-faciliatated Internet Governance Forum.
Since 2005 Cerf has served as vice president and chief Internet evangelist for Google, working to identify new enabling technologies to support the development of advanced Internet-based services and products and to assist in the design and implementation of projects to open new opportunities for Internet connectivity and capacity building globally.