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Internet pioneer Dr. Leonard Kleinrock still pushing emerging technologies

Kleinrock: 50 years at UCLA where he's assembling an Internet history center

By , Network World
October 01, 2012 10:28 AM ET
Leonard Kleinrock

Network World - It's not hard to find Internet pioneer Dr. Leonard Kleinrock -- he's been at UCLA for 50 years, since 1963.

His current position is not too much different than it's always been: distinguished professor of computer science. But he's also involved, and has been involved, in several other ventures outside of UCLA.

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He's the founder of Platformation, a 5-year-old company developing an interactive three-way platform for shoppers, retailers and manufacturers, so as to influence and guide shopping behavior. He's also chairman of TTI/Vanguard, a 15-year-old membership-based high-tech forum for senior IT executives and thought leaders focusing on emerging technologies.

Kleinrock founded Nomadix, a developer of hardware and software for nomadic computing that was acquired by NTT DOCOMO in the mid-2000s. And now Dr. Kleinrock is assembling an exhibit at UCLA, in 3420 Boelter Hall, of the nodes involved in what's considered the first host-to-host communication that gave birth to the Internet.

"We've created an Internet history center at UCLA, the idea being that the Golden Era was a very special time," Kleinrock says. "And we're trying to capture the essence of that time by taking that original switch, the first [Interface Message Processor], and we put it back in its original location -- the same two square feet where it operated at the initiation of the Internet."

Kleinrock and his collaborators are combing the IMP with some other materials from back then -- such as the original log book, which has the entry of the first Internet message: "lo" on Oct. 29, 1969 -- and oral histories of the people involved back then to create an immersive historical center on the origins of the Internet.

"We're not simply going to ask them just what did you accomplish; we're going to ask them, what was the environment that allowed you to accomplish what you did?" Kleinrock says of the oral histories from other Internet and ARPANET pioneers. "We want to capture that and make that available to the public.

"How many revolutions do you know where you know exactly when it started and the exact location where it began?"

Kleinrock says this effort is complementary and cooperative with the Internet history work underway at the Computer History Museum in San Jose, which maintains and updates a digital archive on Internet's birth and evolution.

And speaking of the Internet's evolution ... Kleinrock compared the 40+-year-old packet-based communications infrastructure as an unruly teenager when the industry recognized and commemorated its fourth decade in existence a few years ago. It hasn't matured much since then, he says.

"It's still a misbehaving, unpredictable teenager," Kleinrock says. "There's a dark side of the Internet, a manifestation of things we don't like. It will mature. It's a phase through which it is passing right now. It may create a personality that is uncooperative or offensive rather than benevolent and cooperative. But we're still in the unpredictable misbehaving teenage years."

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