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Re: Jon Postel

>> You might want to read Vin[t] Cerf's thoughts on David Farber's
>> Interesting people list......
> Pray tell how?...

----------forwarded from Dave Farber's IP list------------

Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 07:28:40 -0400
From: Dave Farber <[email protected]>
Subject: IP: Remembrance/postel

I, and others I fear, have spent a sleepless night after hearing of the death
of Jon Postel last night. This morning there was a  note in my mail box from
Vint Cerf that said many of the things I feel at this time. I asked him for
permission to send on which he granted.

I also remember Jon. I was his primary thesis advisor along with Jerry Estrin
and I remember with fond memories the months spent closely working with Jon
while his eager mind developed the ideas in back of what was a pioneering
thesis that founded the area of protocol verification.  Since I was at UC
Irvine and Jon at UCLA we used to meet in the morning prior to my ride to UCI
at a Pancake House in Santa Monica for breakfast and the hard work of
developing a thesis. I gained a great respect for Jon then and 10 pounds of

I will miss him greatly. Jon was my second Ph.D. student. The first, Philip
Merlin, also died way before his time.



 October 17, 1998


Vint Cerf

A 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. Beginning with the ARPANET, an endless stream of networks evolved,
and ultimately were interlinked to become the Internet. Someone 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 we all. 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 was needed. We will survive our loss and we will
remember. He has left a monumental legacy for all Internauts to contemplate.
Steadfast 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 Prof. 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 editor. 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 Sciences

Jon loved the outdoors. 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 Union. 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. 

While 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 has
wrought. 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

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 is awarded to Jon
posthumously as its first recipient.

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.

----------end of forward from Dave Farber's IP list----------

	Jim Gillogly
	Hevensday, 26 Winterfilth S.R. 1998, 22:01, 10 Cauac 12 Yax, Third Lord of Night