Geek Trivia

Which Of These Highly Influential Computer Scientists Is Referred To As The “God of the Internet”?

Vint Cerf
Jon Postel
Tim Berners-Lee
Douglas Engelbart
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Answer: Jon Postel

Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn might be called the “Fathers of the Internet” for their incredibly important contribution of the TCP/IP protocol to the field of network engineering, but there’s a difference between fathering something and holding enormous power over it. If you want the title “God of the Internet”, you need to have a god-like hand in its operation and deployment, which is exactly why, half tongue-in-cheek and half out of true respect, computer scientist Jon Postel was referred to as such.

Why exactly was Postel referred to as the “God of the Internet”? Postel contributed to advancements in Internet-related technologies dating all the way back to early work on the Internet-precursor ARPANET starting in December 1969. Further, he was the editor of the Request for Comment (RFC) document series—a highly influential publication from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Internet Society (ISOC), the principal technical development and standards-setting bodies for the Internet. He also personally administered the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) until his death in 1998.

In addition to being immortalized through his incredible influence on the early Internet, he is also immortalized in “Postel’s Law”, a robustness principle included in RFC 760 that describes how well-designed software and networks should function—“an implementation should be conservative in its sending behavior, and liberal in its receiving behavior” (reworded in RFC 1122 as “Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send”).