Dr. Jonathan B. Postel, director of the Computer Networks division at the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) of the University of Southern California, and director of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, passed away Friday, October 16th, in Los Angeles.
Dr. Postel received his B.S. and M.S. in Engineering, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from UCLA. He was a member of the Association for Computing Machinery and the Internet Society, and served on the Internet Society Board of Trustees. He was awarded the International Telecommunication Union's silver medal in 1998 for his central role in the success story of the Internet.
At UCLA, he was involved in the beginnings of the ARPANET and the development of the Network Measurement Center. He worked in the areas of computer communication protocols, especially at the operating system level and the application level. His other interests included multi-machine internetwork applications, multimedia conferencing and electronic mail, very large networks, and very high speed communications.
He was also involved in several Internet infrastructure activities including the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the RFC Editor, the US Domain, and the Los Nettos network (a regional network for the greater Los Angeles area).
One of Dr. Postel's many accomplishments was to establish the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) which acted as the Internet's central coordination, allocation, and registration body for addresses, names, and protocol parameters since the early days of the Internet. In parallel with the rapid expansion of the Internet in recent years, he expanded the staff of IANA and strengthened IANA's traditional consultative and advisory support from other groups. Characteristically, as the controversies over Internet management unfolded, he chose to expose himself to those pressures, rather than risk disrupting the ability of the IANA staff and supporting groups to do the work that was, and remains, critical to the stability of the network.
Jon Postel was one of the most respected and loved members of the Internet community. His unassuming devotion, and technical wisdom, for an unglamourous but critical job that allowed the Internet to function and grow was met with standing ovations and unparalleled loyalty.
Dr. Postel saw the successor organization to IANA incorporated and structured as the result of discussions and input from a wide range of Internet stakeholders. He believed this organization would provide for the long-term smooth operation of IANA's responsibilities without his being directly and heavily involved.
Jon Postel helped to create the Internet. The privatization of the Internet into a stable international organization to carry his work is a testimony to his outstanding contribution to our current information society.