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A Tribute to the Father of the RFC, Dr. Stephen D. Crocker

Stephen D. Crocker (born October 15, 1944 in Pasadena, California) is the inventor of the Request for Comments series, authoring the very first RFC and many more. (Source: Wikipedia)
Photo by Joi Ito

40 years ago the Request for Comments (RFC) process for the Internet was born. The RFC process continues to be the way Internet protocols are expressed today. We have one very special man to thank for this and his name is Dr. Stephen D. Crocker. For the history behind the RFC process read Steve’s article in The New York Times “How the Internet Got Its Rules.” Crocker authored the first RFC on April 7, 1969, and many more in the years following. He has played a key role in shaping the modern day Internet. For this, I felt that a special tribute to him was in order as we take a look at his countless contributions from the foundation of the Internet to the Internet as we know it today. This is also special thanks to Steve for his assistance with DNSSEC deployment efforts and the DNSSEC Industry Coalition.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.” —Albert Einstien

Steve’s education was a catalyst for many great things to come. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics (1968) and Ph.D. in Computer Science (1977) from the University of California, Los Angeles. As a UCLA graduate student in the 1960’s, Steve was instrumental in the creation of the Arpanet protocols which laid the groundwork for the Internet. Steve was recognized for these efforts when he received the 2002 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Internet Award “for leadership in creation of key elements in open evolution of Internet protocols: Network Working Group, Request for Comments process and layered protocol approaches.

“The great teacher is not the man who supplies the most facts, but the one in whose presence we become different people.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson.

During his tenure at UCLA, Steve taught an extensive course on computer programming for the IBM 7094 mainframe computer. The purpose of this course was to teach digital processing and assembly language programming to high school teachers. This course allowed high school teachers to, in turn, offer computer courses in their high schools. A group of high school students also took part in the course to make certain that they would be able to comprehend this new technology.

“Entrepreneurs are born not made.” —unknown.

Steve Crocker is born an entrepreneur! He was founder and director of the Computer Science Laboratory at the Aerospace Corporation and a Vice President at Trusted Information Systems. In 1994, Crocker was one of the founders and the Chief Technology Officer of CyberCash, Inc., an online payments company. In 1998, he founded and ran Executive DSL, a DSL-based ISP. In 1999, he co-founded, and was CEO, of Longitude Systems, a provider of Operational Support Systems (OSS). He is currently CEO of Shinkuro, Inc., a research and development company for Internet security.

Crocker was a program manager at Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) where he formed the ARPA “Network Working Group”, which later morphed into today’s Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). He served as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) security area director, a member of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), a board member of The Internet Society (ISOC) and has volunteered his time and expertise in several other positions within the Internet industry.

Steve continues to support the Internet as Chair of ICANN’s Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC). He is working tirelessly to encourage industry wide adoption of DNSSEC. Steve is instrumental in this effort as the mastermind behind the DNSSEC Deployment Initiative. For his many valuable contributions—I thank him and so do many others!

By Lauren Price, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, .ORG, The Public Interest Registry

Lauren Price also contributes to the .Org weblog located here.

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