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Network Working Group V. Cerf Request for Comments: 2468 MCI Category: Informational October 1998

                          I REMEMBER IANA
                          October 17, 1998

Status of this Memo

 This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
 not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
 memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

 Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.


 A long time ago, in a network, far far away, a great adventure took
 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

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 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 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 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 Institute.
 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

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 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 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.

Security Considerations

 Security issues are not relevant to this Remembrance.

Author's Address

 Vinton G. Cerf

Cerf Informational [Page 3] RFC 2468 I REMEMBER IANA October 1998

Full Copyright Statement

 Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.
 This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
 others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
 or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
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 kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
 included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
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 Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
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 followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than
 The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
 revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.
 This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

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