- long time
ago, in a network, far far away, a great adventure took place!
- Out of
the chaos of new ideas for communication, the experiments, the tentative
designs, and crucible of testing, there emerged a cornucopia of networks.
with the ARPANET, an endless stream of networks evolved, and ultimately
were interlinked to become the Internet.
had to keep track of all the protocols, the identifiers, networks and addresses
and ultimately the names of all the things in the networked universe.
- And someone
had to keep track of all the information that erupted with volcanic force
from the intensity of the debates and discussions and endless invention
that has continued unabated for 30 years.
- That someone
was Jonathan B. Postel, our Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, friend,
engineer, confidant, leader, icon, and now, first of the giants to depart
from our midst.
- Jon, our
beloved IANA, is gone. Even as I write these words I cannot quite grasp
this stark fact.
- We had
almost lost him once before in 1991. Surely we knew he was at risk as are
- But he
had been our rock, the foundation on which our every web search and email
was built, always there to mediate the random dispute, to remind us when
our documentation did not do justice to its subject, to make difficult
decisions with apparent ease, and to consult when careful consideration
- We will
survive our loss and we will remember. He has left a monumental legacy
for all Internauts to contemplate.
service for decades, moving when others seemed paralyzed, always finding
the right course in a complex minefield of technical and sometimes political
obstacles. Jon and I went to the same high school, Van Nuys High, in the
San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles. But we were in different classes
and I really didn't know him then.
- Our real
meeting came at UCLA when we became a part of a group of graduate students
working for Professor Leonard Kleinrock on the ARPANET project. Steve Crocker
was another of the Van Nuys crowd who was part of the team and led the
development of the first host-host protocols for the ARPANET.
- When Steve
invented the idea of the Request for Comments series, Jon became the instant
- When we
needed to keep track of all the hosts and protocol identifiers, Jon volunteered
to be the Numbers Czar and later the IANA once the Internet was in place.
- Jon was
a founding member of the Internet Architecture Board and served continuously
from its founding to the present.
- He was
the FIRST individual member of the Internet Society I know, because he
and Steve Wolff raced to see who could fill out the application forms and
make payment first and Jon won.
- He served
as a trustee of the Internet Society.
- He was
the custodian of the.US domain, a founder of the Los Nettos Internet service,
and, by the way, managed the networking research division of USC Information
- Jon loved
- I know
he used to enjoy backpacking in the high Sierras around Yosemite. Bearded
and sandaled, Jon was our resident hippie-patriarch at UCLA.
- He was
a private person but fully capable of engaging photon torpedoes and going
to battle stations in a good engineering argument.
- And he
could be stubborn beyond all expectation. He could have outwaited the Sphinx
in a staring contest, I think.
- Jon inspired
loyalty and steadfast devotion among his friends and his colleagues. For
me, he personified the words "selfless service".
- For nearly
30 years, Jon has served us all, taken little in return, indeed sometimes
receiving abuse when he should have received our deepest appreciation.
- It was
particularly gratifying at the last Internet Society meeting in Geneva
to see Jon receive the Silver Medal of the International Telecommunications
- It is
an award generally reserved for Heads of State, but I can think of no one
more deserving of global recognition for his contributions.
it seems almost impossible to avoid feeling an enormous sense of loss,
as if a yawning gap in our networked universe had opened up and swallowed
our friend, I must tell you that I am comforted as I contemplate what Jon
- He leaves
a legacy of edited documents that tell our collective Internet story, including
not only the technical but also the poetic and whimsical as well.
- He completed
the incorporation of a successor to his service as IANA and leaves a lasting
legacy of service to the community in that role.
- His memory
is rich and vibrant and will not fade from our collective consciousness.
"What would Jon have done?", we will think, as we wrestle in
the days ahead with the problems
- Jon kept
so well tamed for so many years. There will almost surely be many memorials
to Jon's monumental service to the Internet Community.
- As current
chairman of the Internet Society, I pledge to establish an award in Jon's
name to recognize long-standing service to the community, the Jonathan
B. Postel Service Award, which will be awarded to Jon posthumously as its
- If Jon
were here, I am sure he would urge us not to mourn his passing but to celebrate
his life and his contributions.
- He would
remind us that there is still much work to be done and that we now have
the responsibility and the opportunity to do our part. I doubt that anyone
could possibly duplicate his record, but it stands as a measure of one
man's astonishing contribution to a community he knew and loved.