Paul Baran, One of Internet's Founders, Dies at 84
Paul Baran, the man who helped design the ARPANET—the most important part of what would become the Internet—died Saturday at age 84 in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 84 and suffered from lung cancer.
Baran is noted for creating "packet switching", which is a way of moving discrete bundles of information around various paths of a network. He created this in the early 1960s while working at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif. Baran's packet switching operated within a distributed communications network that was less vulnerable to attack that others of its era. He suggested that networks be designed so that there were redundant routes. Then, if one path failed, messages still could be delivered via another of these redundant routes. The idea was so advanced that AT&T turned it down.
In 1969, the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency built the ARPANET, a network that used Baran's ideas and those of many other new thinkers. The ARPANET evolved into the Internet and to this day packet switching is at the heart of the network's internal structure.
Born on April 29, 1926, Paul Baran began life in Grodno, Poland. He and his parents moved to the Untied States in 1928, and settled in Philadelphia, where Baran grew up.
In 1949, Baran received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University). He married his wife, Evelyn Murphy, in 1955, and the couple moved to Los Angeles, where Mr. Baran took a job at Hughes Aircraft as a radar data processing system engineer. Baran later received a master’s degree in engineering from UCLA in 1959.
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Dr. Gerald Estrin, Baran's adviser at UCLA, said Baran was the first student he ever had who went to the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C., to investigate whether his graduate work on character recognition was patentable.