Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paul Baran an Internet innovator

One of the men behind the Internet, Paul Baran died at the age of 84 on March 28 2011.

Without him maybe the internet wouldnt work as it does, Mr Baran first put forward the idea of slicing data into "message blocks" and using a distributed system of nodes to pass them on when working at the Rand Corporation in the mid-1960s.
He was one of the first people to work out the idea of splitting data being sent over communications networks into chunks, or "message blocks", which would offset traffic surges and help protect the network from attack. Arpanet the science network was later based upon this approach.

The work was originally done as part of a project to keep telecommunications networks operating even if a large part of them was knocked out by a first strike nuclear attack during the cold war which luckily didnt happen.

A British scientist, Donald Davies, further developed the idea and the result was what we now call packet switching, a vital technical concept that underlies what we call the Internet.

Paul Baran's son David Baran said how his father had recently shown him a paper written in 1966 which speculated about what people would do with the telecommunication networks in the future. It spelled out this idea that by the year 2000 people would be using online networks for shopping and the news.

It goes to show that one person can make a difference in the world