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

Cerf                         Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 2468                    I REMEMBER IANA                 October 1998

   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

Cerf                         Informational                      [Page 2]
RFC 2468                    I REMEMBER IANA                 October 1998

   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
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   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

Cerf                         Informational                      [Page 4]