Milestone-Proposal:Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Architecture of the Internet, 1974
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To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No
Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes
Was it of at least regional importance? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
Title of the proposed milestone:
Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Its Enablement of the Internet, 1974
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
In May 1974, Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn published “A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication” in the IEEE Transactions on Communications scientific journal. This paper described the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) that supported the interconnection of multiple packet-switched networks into a "network of networks." Split later into TCP and an Internet Protocol (IP), TCP/IP became a core component of the Internet that was launched operationally in 1983.
200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.
In late 1973, Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn submitted their paper “A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication” for publication in the IEEE Transactions on Communications scientific journal. This paper, which was published in May, 1974 described the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) that supported the interconnection of multiple packet-switched networks. Split later into TCP and Internet Protocol (IP), TCP/IP became a core component of the Internet that was launched operationally in 1983.
Discussions about packet-switched networks had been going on for many years; however, “inter-networking” of distinct networks really started in late 1972 with Kahn’s operating system interoperation property list, and then the conceptual work with Vint Cerf in 1973. While Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf developed and documented the initial design of TCP, many more have contributed to the hundreds of protocols, thousands of networks, and billions of devices that now make up the global Internet.
TCP and its successor TCP/IP were contemporary with two other internetworking proposals: X.25/X.75 from the ITU-T (then the CCITT), and the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) protocols from the Organization for International Standardization (ISO). The OSI protocols directly competed with TCP/IP for international acceptance. Various applications that originated on the ARPANET became part of the Internet, such as email and remote access to time-sharing services, and were complemented by the arrival of the World Wide Web and its reliance on TCP/IP. These contributed greatly to the adoption and spread of the Internet, and the ultimate success of TCP/IP as a network interconnection method of choice.
IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
Santa Clara Valley
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
Unit: Santa Clara Valley
Senior Officer Name: Liliane Peters
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
Unit: Santa Clara Valley
Senior Officer Name: Liliane Peters
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
IEEE Section: Santa Clara Valley
IEEE Section Chair name: Liliane Peters
Proposer name: Brian A. Berg
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public
Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
Gates Computer Science Building, 353 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305-5008; 37.4300184, -122.1733027
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. On the 4th Floor of the Gates Computer Science Building.
Are the original buildings extant?
No. Vint Cerf's work on TCP was done in the Digital Research Lab, a World War II-era building that was razed to make way for the new Science & Engineering Quad, which is about 2 blocks from the Gates Computer Science Building on the Stanford campus. Bob Kahn was working for ARPA in the Washington, DC area.
Details of the plaque mounting:
The plaque will be mounted in an Internet-focused section of a new Exhibit Area that will showcase the rich history of the Computer Science Dept.
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
The Gates Computer Science Building has security staff, and is open to the public from 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday.
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)
The Internet is a global, collaborative communication system supporting today's World Wide Web and its applications, smartphones, cloud computing services, social networking services, video streaming, and countless Internet-enabled appliances. It has led to the creation of some of the world's largest companies by revenue and market capitalization measures. While Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf are credited with the initial design of TCP, thousands if not millions of others have contributed to the hundreds of protocols, thousands of networks, and billions of devices that make up the global Internet.
"In 1978 TCP was split into TCP and IP for Internet Protocol. In 1983 the Defense Communications Agency DCA and ARPA established the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), as the protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP for ARPANET. This led to one of the first definitions of an 'internet' as a connected set of networks, specifically those using TCP/IP, and the 'Internet' as connected TCP/IP internets. On January 1, 1983 ARPANET required that all connected machines use TCP/IP. On this date TCP/IP became the core Internet protocol and replaced NCP entirely." (Norman, From Gutenberg to the Internet (2005) reading 13.8, p. 871.) Ref4-HistoryOfInformation.com
Justification for Inclusion of the Names of Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn in the Citation
The “A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication” paper (Ref1: Cerf-Kahn IEEE Paper) describing TCP was published in the IEEE Transactions on Communications scientific journal in May 1974, and was co-authored by Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn. The first detailed TCP spec was RFC 675, which was published in December 1974 with Vinton Cerf as its lead author. Ref2: RFC 675
Vinton G. Cerf was the 2023 IEEE Medal of Honor Recipient. As noted in Ref3: Vinton Cerf IEEE Awards, Dr. Cerf is "the co-designer with Robert E. Kahn of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet" and "Cerf’s tireless commitment to the Internet’s evolution, improvement, oversight, and evangelism throughout its history has had an indelible impact on the world. It is largely due to his efforts that we even have the Internet—and it is largely due to the Internet that we have changed the way we live today." and "Cerf has received many accolades for his work on the Internet, including the US National Medal of Technology, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, US National Medal of Technology, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the Japan Prize, the Charles Stark Draper award, the ACM Turing Award, and more."
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
TCP and its successor TCP/IP were contemporary with two other internetworking proposals: (1) X.25/X.75 from the International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), then the Consultative Committee for International Telegraphy and Telephony (CCITT), and (2) the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) protocols from the Organization for International Standardization (ISO). X.25/X.75 became a highly successful networking technology during the period in which TCP/IP was under development. The OSI system directly competed with TCP/IP for international acceptance. The arrival of the World Wide Web and its Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), and its use of TCP/IP, all contributed greatly to the ultimate success of TCP/IP as a network interconnection method of choice, and thus the adoption and spread of the Internet.
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
The business models for the support of Internet networks were equally challenging. The system allowed for non-profit, for-profit, and government-operated networks. The innovative idea was network interconnection without settlements, (unlike the telephone system model). In a practice called peering, networks carried traffic for everyone. Flat rate pricing, often varying with the maximum permitted data rate, and regardless of destination, was another innovative and simplifying practice.
Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.
Ref1: Cerf and Kahn 1974 Paper Media:Ref1_A_Protocol_for_Packet_Network_Intercommunication_Cerf-Kahn_1974.pdf
Ref2: RFC 675 (first detailed TCP Spec) Media:Ref2_RFC-675.txt.pdf
Ref3: Vinton G. Cerf IEEE Awards Webpage Media:Ref3_Vinton-G-Cerf_IEEE-Awards.pdf
Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to email@example.com. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.
Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).
Please recommend reviewers by emailing their names and email addresses to email@example.com. Please include the docket number and brief title of your proposal in the subject line of all emails.