Stuart Biggs, first Cisco CCIE, dies at age 53

Passing occurs just shy of the program’s 20th anniversary

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Stuart Biggs, who in 1993 led a team that created the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert program and was the first to be awarded a CCIE number, has died at age 53.

The news of Biggs's death was relayed by Cisco director of operations Tony George on a blog post Biggs himself had written last year about the origins of the CCIE program. That post was hosted on the website of blogger Brad Reese, who formerly wrote for Network World.

"It is with great sadness that I inform this group that Stuart Biggs passed away yesterday ... ," George wrote on Tuesday. "Stuart made numerous contributions to the technology we all use every day and as this story outlines, its propagation to the world via knowledge transfer in various forms." Biggs had been stricken at his home last Thursday, according to George. This brief obituary says he was a resident of Marysville, Calif., and includes the name of the funeral home handling arrangements.

Here's an excerpt from the post Biggs wrote last year:

One of the goals of this team was to create a course that would focus on expertise on Cisco products in a real live environment. We wanted to fill in the gaps that the 3Com course left out. The written exam was an afterthought - just to set a bar for admission to the lab exam. Before I forget to mention this fact, the original name of the program was going to be 'Cisco Top Gun' - but as that famous Tom Cruise movie with the same name had recently come out, we figured there may be some legal issues in using that name - so we chose 'Cisco Certified Internet Expert' - you can see the original team jacket (pictured):

jacket

We created a lab - it was a bit adhoc - but matched the technology of the early 90's - FDDI, Ethernet, maybe a bit of X.25 as well as IBM SNA and 1 or 2 routing protocols, oh and I can't forget - Token ring. Those were the ingredients of the day.

So we created a written exam and used that as the 'filter' to folks going to the lab. The first person outside of Cisco to take the written was a guy named Terry Slattery. He's a very nice guy who till this day still holds his CCIE certification (#1026). I was the first lab proctor and messed with the cables, jumpers and all manner of things in order to break the lab setup for Terry. Back in those days, it was pretty easy to mess with a cable or fiddle with jumpers on the various boards or interface cards. So I drew a network on a whiteboard - much like the earlier days with Ford - as to how the network should work and walked out of the room. Terry quite handily sorted things out thus becoming the 2nd CCIE in the world - 1st outside of Cisco.

Cisco announced the CCIE program publicly on Sept. 27, 1993, in a press release in which John Chambers, now CEO but then a senior vice president, was quoted:

"The CCIE Program begins where other vendors' certification programs leave off," said Chambers. "It can be compared to completing a university course versus taking college entrance exams. Prospective CCIE candidates must be highly qualified just to enter the program, and then, after taking an intensive troubleshooting course, must pass a rigorous hands-on lab test conducted by senior support engineers. This very stringent set of requirements ensures that only the best professionals are selected."

CCIE program planners chose to start its numbering system with 1024 (2 to the power of 10), according to Biggs, and that number went to a plaque on the lab itself. Biggs received 1025 on July 19, 1993 and Slattery got 1026.

"I am amazed as to how well this program has grown," Biggs wrote last year. "Next year - 2013 will be the 20th year of this program - and people still take notice when someone says they're a CCIE!"

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