Vinton Gray Cerf[2] ForMemRS,[1] (/sɜːrf/; born June 23, 1943) is an American internet pioneer, who is recognized as one of[7] "the fathers of the internet",[8] sharing this title with TCP/IP co-inventor Bob Kahn.[9][10] His contributions have been acknowledged and lauded, repeatedly, with honorary degrees and awards that include the National Medal of Technology,[2] the Turing Award,[11] the Presidential Medal of Freedom,[12] the Marconi Prize and membership in the National Academy of Engineering.

In the early days, Cerf was a manager for the United States' Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (D.A.R.P.A.) funding various groups to develop TCP/IP technology. When the internet began to transition to a commercial opportunity during the late 1980s,[citation needed] Cerf moved to M.C.I. where he was instrumental in the development of the first commercial E. mail system (MCI Mail) connected to the internet.

Cerf was instrumental in the funding and formation of I.C.A.N.N. from the start. He waited a year before stepping forward to join the ICANN Board, and eventually became chairman. He was elected as the president of the Association for Computing Machinery in May 2012,[13] and in August 2013 he joined the Council on CyberSecurity's Board of Advisors.[14]

Cerf is active in many organizations that are working to help the internet deliver humanitarian value to the world. 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. Cerf is also known for his sartorial style, typically appearing in a three-piece suit—a rarity in an industry known for its casual dress norms.[15][16]

Life and career

Vinton Cerf in Vilnius, September 2010

Cerf was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Muriel (née Gray), a housewife, and Vinton Thurston Cerf, an aerospace executive.[17][18] Cerf went to Van Nuys High School in California along with Jon Postel and Steve Crocker; he wrote the former's obituary. Both were also instrumental in the creation of the internet. While in high school, Cerf worked at Rocketdyne on the Apollo program, including helping to write statistical analysis software for the non-destructive tests of the F-1 engines.[19] Cerf's first job after obtaining his B.S. degree in mathematics from Stanford University was at IBM, where he worked for two years as a systems engineer supporting QUIKTRAN.[2] He left IBM to attend graduate school at UCLA where he earned his M.S. degree in 1970 and his PhD degree in 1972.[6][20] During his graduate student years, he studied under Professor Gerald Estrin, worked in Professor Leonard Kleinrock's data packet networking group that connected the first two nodes of the ARPANet,[21] the predecessor[21] to the internet, and "contributed to a host-to-host protocol" for the ARPANet.[22] While at UCLA, he also met Bob Kahn, who was working on the ARPANet hardware architecture.[22] After receiving his doctorate, Cerf became an assistant professor at Stanford University from 1972–1976, where he conducted research on packet network interconnection protocols and co-designed the DoD TCP/IP protocol suite with Kahn.[22] Cerf then moved to DARPA in 1976, where he stayed until 1982.

Cerf playing Spacewar! on the Computer History Museum's PDP-1, ICANN meeting, 2007

As vice president of M.C.I. Digital Information Services from 1982 to 1986, Cerf led the engineering of MCI Mail, the first commercial E. mail service to be connected to the internet. In 1986, he joined Bob Kahn at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives as its vice president, working with Kahn on Digital Libraries, Knowledge Robots, and gigabit speed networks. It was during this time, in 1992, that he and Kahn, among others, founded the Internet Society (I.S.O.C.) to provide leadership in education, policy and standards related to the internet. Cerf served as the first president of I.S.O.C. Cerf rejoined M.C.I. during 1994 and served as Senior Vice President of Technology Strategy. In this role, he helped to guide corporate strategy development from a technical perspective. Previously, he served as M.C.I.'s senior vice president of Architecture and Technology, leading a team of architects and engineers to design advanced networking frameworks, including internet-based solutions for delivering a combination of data, information, voice and video services for business and consumer use.

During 1997, Cerf joined the Board of Trustees of Gallaudet University, a university for the education of the deaf and hard-of-hearing.[23] Cerf himself is hard of hearing.[24] He has also served on the university's Board of Associates.[25]

Cerf, as leader of M.C.I.'s internet business, was criticized due to M.C.I.'s role in providing the I.P. addresses used by Send-Safe.com, a vendor of spamware that uses a botnet in order to send spam. M.C.I. refused to terminate the spamware vendor.[26][27] At the time, Spamhaus also listed M.C.I. as the I.S.P. with the most Spamhaus Block List listings.[28]

Cerf has worked for Google as a Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist since October 2005.[5] In this function he has become well known for his predictions on how technology will affect future society, encompassing such areas as artificial intelligence, environmentalism, the advent of IPv6 and the transformation of the television industry and its delivery model.[29]

Since 2010, Cerf has served as a Commissioner for the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, a UN body which aims to make broadband internet technologies more widely available.

Cerf joined the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 1999, and served until November 2007.[30] He was chairman from November 2000 to his departure from the Board.

Cerf was a member of Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov's IT Advisory Council (from March 2002 – January 2012). He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Eurasia Group, the political risk consultancy.[31]

Cerf is also working on the Interplanetary Internet, together with N.A.S.A.'s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other N.A.S.A. laboratories. It will be a new standard to communicate from planet to planet, using radio/laser communications that are tolerant of signal degradations including variable delay and disruption caused, for example, by celestial motion.[32]

On February 7th, 2006, Cerf testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's hearing on network neutrality. Speaking as Google's Chief Internet Evangelist, Cerf noted that nearly half of all consumers lacked meaningful choice in broadband providers and expressed concerns that without network neutrality government regulation, broadband providers would be able to use their dominance to limit options for consumers and charge companies like Google for their use of bandwidth.[33]

Cerf currently serves on the board of advisors of Scientists and Engineers for America, an organization focused on promoting sound science in American government.[34] He also serves on the advisory council of CRDF Global (Civilian Research and Development Foundation) and was on the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) International Advisory Board.[35]

Cerf is chairman of the board of trustees of A.R.I.N., the Regional Internet Registry (R.I.R.) of I.P. addresses for United States, Canada, and part of the Caribbean.[36] Until Fall 2015, Cerf chaired the board of directors of StopBadware, a non-profit anti-malware organization that started as a project at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.[37][38] Cerf is on the board of advisors to The Liquid Information Company Ltd of the UK, which works to make the web more usefully interactive and which has produced the Mac OS X utility called ‘Liquid'.[39] Vint Cerf is a member of the CuriosityStream Advisory Board.[40]

During 2008 Cerf chaired the Internationalized domain name (IDNAbis) working group of the IETF.[41] In 2008 Cerf was a major contender to be designated the US's first Chief Technology Officer by President Barack Obama.[42] Cerf is the co-chair of Campus Party Silicon Valley, the US edition of one of the largest technology festivals in the world, along with Al Gore and Tim Berners-Lee.[43] From 2009–2011, Cerf was an elected member of the Governing Board of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP). SGIP is a public-private consortium established by NIST in 2009 and provides a forum for businesses and other stakeholder groups to participate in coordinating and accelerating development of standards for the evolving Smart Grid.[44] Cerf was elected to a two-year term as President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) beginning July 1, 2012.[45] In 2015 Cerf co-founded (with Mei Lin Fung), and is currently chairman of, People-Centered Internet (P.C.I.).[46] On January 16, 2013, US President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint Cerf to the National Science Board.[47]

Cerf is also among the 15 members of governing council of International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad.[48]

In June 2016 his work with NASA led to Delay-tolerant networking being installed on the International Space Station with an aim towards an Interplanetary Internet.[49]

Awards and honors

Cerf and Bob E. Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush
Cerf and Bulgarian President Parvanov being awarded the St. Cyril and Methodius in the Coat of Arms Order

Cerf has received a number of honorary degrees, including doctorates, from the University of the Balearic Islands, ETHZ in Zurich, Switzerland, Capitol College, Gettysburg College, Yale University, George Mason University, Marymount University, Bethany College (Kansas), University of Pisa, University of Rovira and Virgili (Tarragona, Spain), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Luleå University of Technology (Sweden), University of Twente (Netherlands), Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Tsinghua University (Beijing), Brooklyn Polytechnic, UPCT (University of Cartagena, Spain), Zaragoza University (Spain), University of Reading (United Kingdom), Royal Roads University (Canada), MGIMO (Moscow State University of International Relations), Buenos Aires Institute of Technology (Argentina), Polytechnic University of Madrid, Keio University (Japan), University of South Australia (Australia), University of St Andrews (Scotland), University of Pittsburgh and [50] Gallaudet University (United States). Other awards include:

See also

Partial bibliography

Cerf at 2007 Los Angeles I.C.A.N.N. meeting
Vint Cerf, before his talk in memory of Dr. John Niparko at the 2017 MidWinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology in Baltimore


  • Zero Text Length EOF Message (RFC 13, August 1969)
  • IMP-IMP and HOST-HOST Control Links (RFC 18, September 1969)
  • ASCII format for network interchange (RFC 20, October 1969)
  • Host-host control message formats (RFC 22, October 1969)
  • Data transfer protocols (RFC 163, May 1971)
  • PARRY encounters the DOCTOR (RFC 439, January 1973)
  • 'Twas the night before start-up (RFC 968, December 1985)
  • Report of the second Ad Hoc Network Management Review Group, RFC 1109, August 1989
  • Internet Activities Board, RFC 1120, September 1989
  • Thoughts on the National Research and Education Network, RFC 1167, July 1990
  • Networks, Scientific American Special Issue on Communications, Computers, and Networks, September 1991
  • Guidelines for Internet Measurement Activities, October 1991
  • A VIEW FROM THE 21ST CENTURY, RFC 1607, April 1, 1994
  • An Agreement between the Internet Society and Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the Matter of ONC RPC and XDR Protocols, RFC 1790, April 1995
  • I REMEMBER IANA, RFC 2468, October 17, 1998
  • Memo from the Consortium for Slow Commotion Research (CSCR, RFC 1217, April 1, 1999
  • The Internet is for Everyone, RFC 3271, April 2002


  • Vinton Cerf, Robert Kahn, A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication (IEEE Transactions on Communications, May 1974)
  • Vinton Cerf, Y. Dalal, C. Sunshine, Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program (RFC 675, December 1974)
  • Vinton Cerf, Jon Postel, Mail transition plan (RFC 771, September 1980)
  • Vinton Cerf, K.L. Mills Explaining the role of GOSIP, RFC 1169, August 1990
  • Clark, Chapin, Cerf, Braden, Hobby, Towards the Future Internet Architecture, RFC 1287, December 1991
  • Vinton Cerf et al., A Strategic Plan for Deploying an Internet X.500 Directory Service, RFC 1430, February 1993
  • Vinton Cerf & Bob Kahn, Al Gore and the Internet, 2000-09-28[69]
  • Vinton Cerf et al., Internet Radio Communication System July 9, 2002, U.S. Patent 6,418,138
  • Vinton Cerf et al., System for Distributed Task Execution June 3, 2003, U.S. Patent 6,574,628
  • Vinton Cerf et al., Delay-Tolerant Networking Architecture (Informational Status), RFC 4838, April 2007


  1. ^ a b c Anon (2016). "Dr Vint Cerf ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2016-04-29.  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the royalsociety.org website where:

    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2016. 

  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cerf's curriculum vitae as of February 2001, attached to a transcript of his testimony that month before the United States House Energy Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, from I.C.A.N.N.'s website
  3. ^ "Governing Council - IIIT Hyderabad". www.iiit.ac.in. 
  4. ^ Gore Deserves Internet Credit, Some Say, a March 1999 Washington Post article
  5. ^ a b Cerf's up at Google, from the Google Press Center
  6. ^ a b Cerf, Vinton (1972). Multiprocessors, Semaphores, and a Graph Model of Computation (PhD thesis). University of California, Los Angeles. OCLC 4433713032. 
  7. ^ (see Interview with Vinton Cerf Archived June 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., from a January 2006 article in Government Computer News), Cerf is willing to call himself one of the internet fathers, citing Bob Kahn and Leonard Kleinrock in particular as being others with whom he should share that title.
  8. ^ Cerf, V. G. (2009). "The day the Internet age began". Nature. 461 (7268): 1202–1203. doi:10.1038/4611202a. PMID 19865146. 
  9. ^ "ACM Turing Award, list of recipients". Awards.acm.org. Archived from the original on December 12, 2009. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  10. ^ "IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal". Ieee.org. July 7, 2009. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Cerf wins Turing Award February 16, 2005
  12. ^ a b 2005 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients from the White House website
  13. ^ ACM Elects Vint Cerf as President Archived May 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. from the ACM website
  14. ^ "Advisory Board" Archived September 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Council on CyberSecurity website. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  15. ^ "Internet pioneer Vint Cerf looks to the future", Todd Bishop, Seattle P-I, July 23, 2007. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  16. ^ Ghosh, Pallab. "Google's Vint Cerf warns of 'digital Dark Age'". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  17. ^ Jerome, Richard (September 18, 2000). "Lending An Ear – Health, Real People Stories". People. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Vinton Gray Cerf Biography". BookRags.com. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  19. ^ Wientjes, Greg (2011). Creative Genius in Technology : Mentor Principles from Life Stories of Geniuses and Visionaries of the Singularity. p. 93. ISBN 978-1463727505. 
  20. ^ "UCLA School of Engineering Alumnus Chosen for Prestigious Turing Award". UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Spring 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-03-05. 
  21. ^ a b "Internet predecessor turns 30". CNN. 1999-09-02. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. 
  23. ^ Dr. Vinton G. Cerf Appointed to Gallaudet University's Board of Trustees Archived August 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., from that university's website
  24. ^ "Vinton Cerf – Father of the Internet, Vinton Cerf". Deafness.about.com. August 28, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Board of Associates". Gallaudet University. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  26. ^ Socks the Whitehouse Cat (February 19, 2005). "Re: ACM ethics complaint against Cerf – first draft". Newsgroupcomp.org.acm. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  27. ^ McWilliams, Brian (February 16, 2005). "Protest brewing against Internet pioneer". Spam Kings Blog. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  28. ^ Socks the Whitehouse Cat (February 25, 2005). "ACM ethics complaint against Cerf – first draft". Newsgroupcomp.org.acm. Retrieved June 9, 2014. 
  29. ^ The Daily Telegraph, August 2007
  30. ^ "ICANN Board of Directors – Vinton G. Cerf". Icann.org. February 14, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  31. ^ "Eurasia Group". Eurasia Group. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  32. ^ "The InterPlaNetary Internet Project IPN Special Interest Group". Ipnsig.org. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  33. ^ "Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce" (PDF). Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  34. ^ SEA’s Board of Advisors. sefora.org
  35. ^ "Govt red tape adds to security threats", Vivian Yeo, ZDNet, October 12, 2009
  36. ^ "ARIN Announces Newly Elected Board of Trustees". Arin.net. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  37. ^ "Board of Directors". StopBadware. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Harvard's Berkman Center and the Oxford Internet Institute Unveil StopBadware.org Backed by Google, Lenovo, Sun; Consumer Reports WebWatch Takes Unpaid Special Advisor Role". StopBadware. January 23, 2006. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  39. ^ "The Liquid Information Company". Liquid.info. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  40. ^ "CuriosityStream Advisory Board". Retrieved 31 August 2015. 
  41. ^ "IDNAbis WG". Tools.ietf.org. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  42. ^ "The 5 best jobs Obama has yet to fill – Craig Gordon and Ben Smith". Politico.Com. December 4, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  43. ^ Daniel Ben-Horin (November 21, 2011). "The Kids Are Alright: Campus Party, Silicon Valley Tech Festival Rocks NASA". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  44. ^ "Smart Grid Interoperability Panel Launched; Governing Board Elected". Retrieved November 19, 2009. 
  45. ^ "ACM Elects Vint Cerf as President". ACM. Archived from the original on May 26, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  46. ^ "Economies grow far better with inclusivity and compromise". DailyNation. November 23, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2018. 
  47. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". Retrieved January 20, 2013. 
  48. ^ "Governing Council". International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad. Retrieved April 18, 2016. 
  49. ^ Mahoney, Erin (21 June 2016). "Space Internet Technology Debuts on the International Space Station". 
  50. ^ [1], website news archive, last accessed June 24, 2015
  51. ^ "Vinton Cerf M.S. '70, PhD '72 UCLA Alumni". Alumni.ucla.edu. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  52. ^ "SIGCOMM Awards". Sigcomm.org. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  53. ^ "Office of Science and Technology Policy The White House". Ostp.gov. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  54. ^ "National Medals of Science and Technology Foundation". 
  55. ^ "Vinton Cerf". Computer History Museum. Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  56. ^ "ACM: Fellows Award / Vinton G. Cerf". amturing.acm.org. June 4, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  57. ^ "ISOC-Bulgaria: IT-delegation in Sofia". Isoc.bg. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  58. ^ 2008 (24th) Japan Prize Laureate[dead link]
  60. ^ FiveYear. "Vint Cerf's Top YouTube Videos". Youtube. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  61. ^ “Vinton G. Cerf, who developed together with Robert E. Kahn the TCP/IP protocol was awarded as a HPI Fellow on May 25th 2011. The HPI award is a tribute to his work for a new medium which influenced the everyday life of our society like no other one.” "HPI Fellows & Guests". Archived from the original on May 20, 2011. Retrieved May 27, 2011. 
  62. ^ British Computer Society. "Vint Cerf named BCS Distinguished Fellow". Retrieved September 28, 2011. 
  63. ^ 2012 Inductees, Internet Hall of Fame website. Last accessed April 24, 2012
  64. ^ "2013 Winners Announced" Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering
  65. ^ "62nd Bernard Price Memorial Lecture". South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE). September 5, 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  66. ^ "Bearers of decorations – Vinton Gray Cerf". Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  67. ^ "Vinton Cerf Appointed an Officer of the Legion of Honor". 
  68. ^ "Vinton Gray Cerf". November 2, 2017. 
  69. ^ Thomas C Greene (2000-10-02). "Net builders Kahn, Cerf recognise Al Gore: Grateful for the inventor's genius". The Register (UK). Archived from the original on 2013-12-13. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 

Further reading

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Tadahiro Sekimoto
IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal
with Bob Kahn
Succeeded by
Richard Blahut