Technology pioneers Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn have been awarded the unofficial computing industry 'Nobel Prize' - the ACM Turing Award - for pioneering work on the design and implementation of the internet's basic communications protocols.
The honour was made by the Association for Computing Machinery, in recognition of the pair's work developing TCP/IP, the protocol that made the internet possible by enabling computers in diverse environments to communicate with each other.
Cerf joined Kahn in 1973 to work on a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project to link three independent networks into an integrated "network of networks".
They sought to develop an open architecture model for heterogeneous networks to communicate independent of individual hardware and software configuration, with sufficient flexibility and end-to-end reliability to overcome transmission failures and disparity among the participating networks.
Their collaboration led to the realisation that a 'gateway' (now known as a router) was needed between each network to accommodate different interfaces and to route packets of data.
This meant designating host computers on a global internet, for which they introduced the notion of an Internet Protocol address.
In May 1974, they published a paper describing a method of communication, called Transmission-Control Protocol, to route messages or packets of data.
David Patterson, president of the Association for Computing Machinery, said that the work of Cerf and Kahn in defining the internet architecture and its associated protocols represented a cornerstone of the information technology field.
"Their work has enabled the many rapid and accessible applications on the internet that we rely on today, including email, the world wide web, instant messaging, peer-to-peer transfers, and a wide range of collaboration and conferencing tools. These developments have helped make IT a critical component across the industrial world," he said.
The Turing Award was first given in 1966, and is named after British mathematician Alan Turing. It carries a $100,000 prize, with financial support provided by Intel.
David Tennenhouse, a vice president and director of research at Intel, said: "This award also serves to encourage the next generation of technology pioneers to deliver the ideas and inventions that will continue to drive our industry forward."
The A M Turing Award website can be found here.
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