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Internet Hall of Fame 2017 –  Craig Partridge

Internet Hall of Fame 2017 – Craig Partridge


And finally in this category, someone who has contributed extensively to the Internet’s technical evolution and designed how email is
routed using domain names. Craig Patridge. (applause) – So, thank you. If you talk with people who worry about the evolution of technology, one of the things they often comment about is that in many cases the
future is quite clear. You can see it coming, but you don’t know how far away it is. Ok? Sometimes it’s quite far away. If some of you have read the
early works of Alan Turing, you can see that some
things we’re struggling with in AI today are things that
Alan Turing anticipated 40 or more years ago. On the other hand, you
also run into situations like the Internet in the 1980s. In that case we could see the future and it was a series of
trains barreling at us at full speed. At the same time the Internet community was extremely small at that time, and so basically anybody who had the ability to spell IP and was eager
to actually help out was drafted to fix things. And that’s how I got
into this game early on. And in particular, my first step was to discover that the
proposed way for routing email using domain names had a bug in it. So I wrote up the bug. I wrote up a solution to it
which I will tell you right now, was exceptionally ugly, and I sent it to Jon Postel. And Jon sent me back a note saying why does this look so ghastly? And I explained to him it was the only way, given the way the DNS had
been structured, to fix things unless we made some
small changes to the DNS and he said well let’s make those changes because this is terrible. And he said, since you were
smart enough to find the bug, you’re the one who gets to just fix it. Okay? And then he was kind enough at least to give me some help, and he
rounded up few other people to advise me in the process. And so that’s how I ended up
dealing with the — being the guy who invented
how email is routed. I found the bug, and was the stuckee because there wasn’t anybody else. So this is consistent with
Ed Krol’s description of the state of the world in
the 1980s and early 1990s. That said, I do have a number of people to thank for that, and for the later work that I did on high-performance routers and encryption devices. So I want to name a few people. Related email first of all is Jon who had the confidence to tell somebody who was under 25 at the time that he should be in charge of designing how email was routed. He was very gracious about it
and he stepped in periodically when he thought the committee was getting a little over eager about advising. I also want to thank Vint Cerf who played a critical role in helping me learn how to lead technical projects in the years immediately following. Working with Vint is a delight. If anybody gets a chance to
work with Vint on a project, do it. Beyond that, Larry Landweber, who is here and who taught me the benefit of reaching out internationally at the time of the
international Internet community was small but extremely passionate. Dick Edmiston, my boss at the time, encoraged me to take on the risks, and Dave Crocker, who was
always liberal with his advice, and it was usually sound.
For those who know Dave, this will sound very familiar. After the email routing,
I went on, as I said, to work on high-performance routers and encryption devices, and that in itself was also extremely exciting experience, building the world’s fastest router, at a time that people believed
that router technology couldn’t go faster, was an
extraordinary experience. And that only worked because I had a few very extraordinary people
who worked with me. One is a gentleman named Walter Milliken, who probably many of you never heard of, or if you do, you know him from
the Steve Jackson games lawsuit many years ago by the EFF, but he is actually one of probably the top four or five people in the world at figuring out how to make hardware and software work together. The kind of guy that says: No, no, you don’t want to do —
make that bit the control bit because it will cause
the software to require and interrupt every 10th
time you receive something, you don’t want that. That kind of guy. There are only few in the
world who could do that. Other people are the folks like the late Chuck Thacker. Walter was one, and saved me — on both encryption devices and routers — from making many mistakes. Beyond that, Dr. Steve Kent, who is also a member the
Internet Hall of Fame, and who helped on many of the hard problems on the high-performance
encryption devices. More generally, it has
been a great privilege to work at BBN. BBN turned on the ARPANET in 1969, and it has retained a long tradition of extremely high
quality networking people, so you can stroll down the
hall anytime with a challenge, and find someone who’s happy
to give you an opinion, usually a very good one, about
how to make it work better. And I want to thank obviously my family, my parents, my sister and my son for their support. Particularly since it means
I’m usually not around, I’m on a plane somewhere
to work with other people related to the Internet. And I want to thank the ISOC
for this tremendous honor. So thank you very much. (applause)

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